From former Harlem firefighter Kasminoff, a debut suspenser about a fire marshal in Manhattan tracking down a sadistic murderer and arsonist. Something about the deep-dyed evil in recent horrors he's witnessed strikes a buried memory in Fire Marshal Matt Kincaid, who's got 20 years in the New York City Fire Department. First he finds himself investigating a series of homeless men who have been set on fire. Eddie Cannell, a young criminal, gives him the lead he needs before Eddie too winds up as a smoking pyre at the site of the old World's Fair. At the same site Matt finds a 12-year-old girl whom the arsonist has chained up, raped, and tortured for two years. As Matt spends time obsessively tracking his prey, his second partner in a row is killed and his wife leaves him. Meanwhile, the fire department receives notes from the killer, who calls himself The Sentry, telling officials not to assign Matt to the case--which The Sentry knows will ensure his eventual going one on one with Matt. Hypnosis stirs enough memories for Matt to recall his bloody encounters with a local bully during his adolescence--a bully now grown up not only to have become a landlord who buys buildings on the cheap and torches them, but also to have assembled a group of S&M slaves to do his bidding, even setting up a crucible of horror in a huge ballroom. Kasminoff's firefighting experience lends authenticity here, but it's still not credible that even the sadist would remain enticed by an unwashed child over two years in chains, swollen with sores and physically rotting. And the youthful rivalry between Matt and The Sentry re-erupting after 20 years locks the novel safely into the thriller genre rather than letting it head for the memorable mainstream work it might have been. Gripping melodrama that moves from ghastliness to ghastliness with a powerful sense of growing havoc.