Posted in book review, books

a turtle’s eye view – 419 by will ferguson

disclosure – i won an e-galley of this novel in a contest sponsored by shelf awareness and g.p. putnam sons.

Sir, I am writing today on behalf of Miss Sandra, daughter of Dr. Atta, late Director & Chairman of the Contract Award Committee for the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation. As you may know … Miss Sandra was able through God’s will to amass quite a sizable fortune. With her mother succumbed to heartbreak and both her father protector and uncle killed in the crash, Miss Sandra’s life is now in grave danger … she has been forced into hiding by her family’s high-placed enemies.

we’ve all heard about the emails from nigeria, some of us have even gotten them. the offers of hundreds of thousands, even millions, of dollars if we’d only help the poor persecuted person get their money out of the country and safely into friendly hands, seem too good to be true. unfortunately, someone always takes the bait and in 419, will ferguson’s new novel, readers are taken inside the scam and given a glimpse at the devastation it brings one victim and his family.

when laura curtis’ father falls prey to one of these scams and its conclusion is an automobile accident that may not be an accident at all, the resulting turmoil sends her on a journey to find the 419ers. at the same time in nigeria, a young woman (amina) is walking south to find a better life for herself and her unborn child, and a young man (nnamdi) who has been caught in the nigerian oil wars is traveling north to find a new way of life for himself. through all of this, the main 419er (winston – one of his many names) is still plying his trade with his own good and bad luck.

the story of laura’s reaction to her father’s death, the details of the 419 itself, the glimpses of winston’s life and “work”, and the novel’s denouement were truly captivating. i found myself drawn to laura and felt empathy for the circumstances she found herself in not only because of her father’s choices but because of her own. winston’s part in the novel was just as compelling because he can never quite decide if he sees himself as the hero or the victim of his own story.

where the novel let me down was with the stories of amina and nnamdi. this third and fourth story came out of nowhere and left me feeling as if i had suddenly started reading another novel. large sections of the story as a whole failed to engage me and i found myself wondering when we’d get back to the real point of the novel. by the end i was able to nod my head and at least feign appreciation of their presence in the story but i since i never connected with either of them it didn’t have an impact on me either way.

mr. ferguson blended the three main parts of the novel seamlessly. laura, winston, and the 419 itself are all vibrant and compelling characters; they all draw you in and make you want to keep reading to the very end because you’ve invested so much that you have to stay just a little longer to see if it’s all going to work out.

overall rating: three of five stars