#Book Review – Day of Days: September 11, 2001, A Novel of the Fire Service; F. Napolitano

Book review stop! Today I’m delighted to be the host for Day of Days, a historical novel written by F. Napolitano.

First thing first, let me thank the author for providing me with an e-copy of this book. Much obliged *hat tip* 


For these men, the fire service is their heart, their blood, and their brotherhood. On the morning of September 11, 2001, bound by that brotherhood, they responded to the alarm at the World Trade Center. They fought that day to save civilians, each other, and themselves, against an adversary they thought they knew, and with every step they took, came to realize they might not see another sunrise.

It’s the spring of 2001 in New York City. FDNY engineman and jazz musician Phil Coletti works his shifts on Engine 252 in Brooklyn. He never expected to fall in love with a woman he rescued from a suicide attempt on the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge, but he’s been on the job long enough to know he should expect the unexpected. Across the river in Manhattan, Captain Patrick Boyle, the most decorated officer in the history of the FDNY, lies in a hospital bed recovering from third-degree burns. He’s surprised to see his former lover at his bedside- especially since she ditched him to get engaged to a billionaire running for governor of NewYork-and he begins to wonder if the Job is truly for him. Over on Ladder 14, Bryan O’Rorke, a hard-charging truckie and son of a fireman killed in the line of duty, demands 110% from the guys on his crew. When a probationary firefighter from the Bronx, nineteen-year-old Harry Sturgis, arrives at the firehouse, it doesn’t take long before O’Rorke is putting the kid through the paces, and both men suffer the consequences of his unorthodox methods.

This visceral and unsettling novel tells the story of the firefighter’s life, culminating with the emergency response to the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center on a spectacular September Tuesday in 2001. It portrays the courage, pain, and devotion of the men and women who respond when the alarm is sounded, who follow an unwritten code borne of necessity and preservation, and who sometimes pay the ultimate price so others may live.

Historical, 9/11
Publication date: 07/09/21


Cover: Evocative. I’m not fond of brown as a rule, but here it fits the theme.

Covering recent historical events is not an easy feat. Both authors and readers might be emotionally biased about it, and that could affect the entire experience—that’s one reason why I’m careful when selecting such stories. With Day of Days, Napolitano proves to be skilled enough to avoid falling into traps: his novel is packed with emotion, but he still manages to lay the facts down without passing judgment.

It is what it is, he says. This happened, this is what went on. Read it and see for yourself. 

The visceral writing means that Napolitano doesn’t pull any punches, from start to finish. I knew what was going to happen as I read on, and even so, I found myself rooting for the firemen, for all the people trapped in the Towers. I hoped against hope and reason they’d make it, somehow. Such a reaction is a testament to Napolitano’s ability to pull in the reader—bravo!

Characters-wise, the cast is quite big, with the POV shifting between the various MCs. Coletti and Ellie are the ones that stand out the most, while I’m not so impressed with others: they sound a bit too alike in places.

The problem I have with Day of Days, however, is of the technical kind. Characters are always introduced or talked about following the same scheme (age, physical description, epithets), and that’s something that kills the flow. Even if an author doesn’t subscribe to my less is more, keep relevant philosophy—fair enough—the overuse of descriptions just won’t do.

I’m also puzzled by the habit of referring to characters by their full name throughout the book. Again, it’s a matter of flow: say, after introducing Phil Coletti for the first time, using either his first or his last name would be enough from then on.  

3.5 stars on GR.


Frank Napolitano is a native and resident of Greenwich, Connecticut where he lives with his wife and daughter. Since 1982, when he was eighteen years old, he has been a member of a local volunteer fire company, where he has held the rank of lieutenant and captain.

On the morning of September 11, 2001, he was in lower Manhattan on his way to court when the terrorist attacks occurred, and he witnessed the events of that day first-hand. Two weeks later, he deployed with members of his fire company to the World Trade Center to assist in the recovery efforts there. A graduate of Columbia University and Brooklyn Law School, he currently works in New York City and is a docent at the 9 11 Tribute Museum in Manhattan.

His first novel, Day of Days, written over ten years, is about the fire service and how it responded at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. It was published by Toren James Publishing in September 2021

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