The Department.

Work is progressing nicely on this new title. Read an extract here.


Detective Michael Casoni works with the New York Fire Department Investigators to track down a serial arsonist.

The crazy thing was that he had once wanted to work with the fire department.

He didn’t know where the fascination with fire had started. As a kid growing up in Queens, he’d played with matches. It had started with a craze, collecting matchboxes of all shapes and sizes. He particularly liked Irish ones, as the boxes were sturdy and held real wooden matches as opposed to the flimsy paper ones with its equally flimsy wrapping. He liked the sulphuric smell of the match that he struck and the way the flame kept burning until it hit the tips of his fingers.

In later life he had gravitated towards a career in the Fire Department of New York, but he had been rejected.  He remembered a time when on vacation in Maine he had started a forest fire on a hill and he had then driven a few miles away to watch the effects. It had been spectacular, the night sky lit up by a crazy red and orange colour that illuminated the light.

He watched in fascination as the building in front of him took hold, the flames spreading upward from the cellar where he had ignited the gas. His eyes were ablaze with a hungry look as though the flames were feeding a habit. He continued to watch as the ladder companies began arriving and busied themselves with hoses, fire hydrants, and other types of paraphernalia used to combat fire.

He smiled.

He’d have felt less smug had he known he was about to initiate one of the heaviest investigations yet into his nefarious activities.

A victim lay smouldering in the ruins. A young woman with heavy political connections. The Mayor’s daughter.

* * *

Heat could be generated in lots of ways besides fire, and both the NYPD and the NYFD felt that heat that didn’t just trickle, it flowed like an overripe lava bed dripping with molten fire, from the Mayor’s office as soon as confirmation of the dead girl’s identity was made and notified to the present incumbent of the office.

The Mayor of New York had his own protective detail and it had fallen to the shoulders of Lieutenant John Bryson to tell the man that his only daughter had perished in a fire downtown. The Mayor had heard him out in stony silence before dismissing him and reaching out to the police commissioner. The top man. The buck stopped with him.

The Mayor of New York was a powerful, political force and ruled the roost when it came to matters pertaining to the police and fire departments of the city. The Police Commissioner was summoned and was subjected to a grilling by the Mayor.

The Mayor cut to the chase without preambles. His name was Mansfield.  “My daughter is dead. I don’t want to hear anything about inter-departmental rivalries or ‘red menace’ on this one Commissioner. I want your best people working with the fire department to solve this case. Clear?”

The Commissioner coughed, as though a wisp of smoke had caught at the back of his throat. “If I may extend my condolences, sir,” he said.

The Mayor’s voice was cold. “Condolences accepted, Commissioner, but mark my words. I want your best people on this one.”

“Sir,” the Commissioner acknowledged.

Published by freelancer555

Irish writer and journalist.

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