Path of Affliction

Fiction - Crime
332 Pages
Reviewed on 07/09/2021
Buy on Amazon

Author Biography

Nick Campanella likes transforming a foggy dream into a complete story. He currently lives in Duluth, Minnesota, a shining little city on a hill, overlooking the largest freshwater lake in the world.
Mr. Campanella’s foundation of hard work, respect, and teamwork was built on the hockey rink as a kid. His claim to glory is the fact he got a slashing penalty in the Minnesota State High School Hockey Tournament in 1996. After graduating high school, Nick enrolled full time at Lake Superior Community College for sociology. After two years of college—like many 21-year-old kids—Nick went down the wrong path. Alcohol and an underworld party life consumed him. His grades slipped. And then he got robbed at gunpoint by masked intruders.
Surviving the robbery with an empty wallet, Nick re-evaluated his life and what he wanted. In order to carve out a new path, he eventually dropped out of college, quit drinking, and got a full-time job. Drifting from construction to a retail business in his late twenties, Nick discovered his true passion of writing at the age of 32.
Today, Nick Campanella is a father who likes to take long hikes in the woods with his daughter. He watches more hockey than he plays, but once or twice a year, he says he likes to lace up the skates and put a lil’ lumber in someone’s side, just so they know he’s there. (A line from Nick’s favorite movie, Slap Shot.)

    Book Review

Reviewed by Ruffina Oserio for Readers' Favorite

Path of Affliction by Nick Campanella is a fascinating tale of murder and greed that will appeal to fans of crime thrillers. Frankie Buccetti and his friends are out hunting deer when they hear gunshots. Instead of calling 911, Frankie convinces his friends to head out and find out what has happened. They discover bags of drugs and money and bodies filled with bullets. Deciding to keep the cash, they cover their tracks and are sure everything will be all right; little do they know that the money belongs to a dangerous drug cartel in Chicago, a cartel noted for using torture and violence to get information. With the FBI investigating the homicide together with unscrupulous cops, the tension mounts. As the conflict escalates, greed takes center stage and there are characters who will do anything to have their piece of the pie, even murder.

There is so much to relish in Nick Campanella’s Path of Affliction, including the deft plotting, the fully drawn and relatable characters, and the well-written conflict. The author introduces an array of interesting characters and writes strong motivation into each of them. While Frankie might have gotten off scot-free in taking the money, he has a troubled friend to deal with; Ivan Mortenson, a greedy man who is mentally unstable and will grab any chance to have his share of the money. Other characters include corrupt cops, gang members, and the Feds. The writing is crisp and very descriptive and the dialogues are smartly written, augmenting the drama in the story. It is an accomplished crime novel that features sophisticated characters and a conflict explored on multiple levels.

Divine Zape

Path of Affliction by Nick Campanella is a crime thriller with an intelligently written plot and conflict that enriches the other elements of the story. Four friends are out in the woods, deer hunting, when they hear gunshots. Curious, they search the area to find where the gunshots came from. They then stumble on a gory site of a massacre with bags of drugs and cash left behind. Instead of calling the police, Frankie Buccetti and his friends decide to keep the money and cover their tracks. What follows is a nightmare involving a drug cartel with a reputation for violence and an investigation that features corrupt cops and other dangerous characters. Frankie hoped to just fade away, but when an old friend, Ivan Mortenson, with a particular interest in getting his share of the money, is involved, things become even more complicated.

For a debut novel, Path to Affliction is stellar, a thriller that deftly discusses the theme of choice and consequence and keeps readers absorbed as they follow the unpredictable plot. Nick Campanella’s characters are rock-solid, elaborately developed, and each character is rooted in a background that is interesting. The conflict is strong as readers encounter an average man who digs trenches but stumbles on a fortune that can end his life. His fight to survive is central in the story, and the author weaves twists and surprises that I never saw coming. The author’s storytelling skills excel in his writing, the prose is crisp and enticing, and the characters are as real as they can get.

Vincent Dublado

Frankie Buccetti isn’t supposed to be there. He would rather dig trenches than go deer hunting, but his friends talked him into it. In pretty much any work of fiction, what could go wrong with a character making an honest living and then deciding to get out of his comfort zone to try something new? Nick Campanella's Path of Affliction clearly rationalizes this idea when Buccetti and his pals hear gunshots that didn’t come out of their barrels. As a fusillade of semi-automatic fire breaks the silence, instinct dictates the four-man hunting party flee, but something inside Buccetti stirs him to convince his friends to help him investigate—because it is the right thing to do. What they find are warm dead bodies riddled with bullets and three duffel bags filled with cash and dope. Greed kicks in as they decide to keep the money and cover their tracks. What they didn’t know is that the money belongs to a ruthless drug cartel, and things will only get worse when the FBI and some crooked cops enter the scene to investigate. This mess will show Buccetti the Judas among his friends.

You can be pretty sure that the protagonist is going to learn a hard lesson on what people will do to get money. It certainly puts a different perspective on money being the root of all evil. They could have called 911 upon hearing the gunshots, but no. Buccetti’s resolve to do the right thing ironically serves as the match that ignited the whole ruckus. Campanella’s text is not complex in intent or execution. As a crime writer, his work is animated by the voices of the involved rogues intensifying the conflict as they operate within their self-interest. But it is Buccetti’s voice that establishes continuity under Campanella’s uncompromising writing. Path of Affliction develops many key criminal perspectives so that explicit language and violence become essential in driving content. This sets the bar for what crime fiction should be.