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The 25th Hour

The 25th Hour

4.3 22
by David Benioff

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The brilliant debut novel from the critically acclaimed author of City of Thieves and When the Nines Roll Over and the co-creator of the HBO series Game of Thrones, adapted as a feature film by Spike Lee starring Edward Norton and Philip Seymour Hoffman

"Novels like The 25th Hour don't fall out of


The brilliant debut novel from the critically acclaimed author of City of Thieves and When the Nines Roll Over and the co-creator of the HBO series Game of Thrones, adapted as a feature film by Spike Lee starring Edward Norton and Philip Seymour Hoffman

"Novels like The 25th Hour don't fall out of trees every day. The tone is dark and intense; its elegant style is cut on the raw side; and the characters come from places we've all been." -The New York Times

All Monty Brogan ever really wanted when he grew up was to be a fireman. Now he's about to start a seven-year stretch in the federal penitentiary for drug dealing. With just twenty-four hours of freedom to go, he prowls the city with his girlfriend and his two best friends from high school-a high-flying bond trader and an idealistic teacher. As the minutes count down, Monty seizes one last chance to stack the odds in his favor.

Hurtling from the money pits of Wall Street to Manhattan's downtown lounge and club scene, from the enclaves of the Russian mob to the old immigrant neighborhoods, The 25th Hour evokes the pulsing rhythms and diamond-hard edges of a city in the raw, illusory hours between midnight and dawn. A taut and mesmerizing tale of an urban purgatory suspended between the crime and the punishment, The 25th Hour is a major player in contemporary noir fiction from the author of the bestselling novel City of Thieves and the short story collection When the Nines Roll Over.   

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Captivating . . . A pungent, funny, urban tableau full of shrewd operators and unfulfilled desires." (The New York Times)

"Tight and crisp . . . . The 25th Hour shines. It couldn't get much better." (San Francisco Chronicle)

"Remarkable . . . A darkly human novel that ends up more about hope than about cynicism." (The Denver Post)

The clock is ticking for Monty Brogan, who has 24 hours of freedom remaining before he begins a seven-year stretch in the pen. But Monty's not about to go quietly -- and those hours may be all that he needs to pull off a caper that will stack the odds in his favor at last….
In The 25th Hour,the dimness is portrayed with bright, knowing intelligence, and...achieves both pathos and excitement. A-. <%COMM_CONTRIB%>Entertainment Weekly
Janet Maslin
Mr. Benioff creates a pungent, funny urban tableau full of shrewd operators and unfulfilled desires.
New York Times
San Francisco Chronicle
As a novel, The 25th Hour shines. It couldn't get much better.
Denver Post
...a very promising first work, a darkly human novel that ends up being more about hope than about cynicism.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
HIn 24 hours, handsome 27-year-old drug dealer Monty Brogan will enter Otisville Federal Prison to do seven years hard time. His father wants him to run. His drug-lord boss, Uncle Blue, wants to know if he squealed. His girlfriend isn't sure what she wants, and his two best friends know one thing for sure: after he goes in, he will never be the same. In this character-driven crime novel, first-time novelist Benioff dazzles with a spellbinding portrait of three high school buddies confronting the consequences of their carefree youth on the streets of New York. Monty really wanted to be a fireman, but fell in love with "sway," the deference afforded a young man with important connections. For the past five years, he's been selling drugs for Uncle Blue in Manhattan, to moneyed and celebrity clients. His pal, maverick bond trader Frank Slattery, thirsts for serenity, but dreams of avenging old wrongs while fighting his covert lust for Monty's Puerto Rican girlfriend. Despite Monty's dismal future, shy Jakob Elinsky, an ethical, awkward high school English teacher, envies his friend's self-assurance with women as he struggles to control his own secret hunger for a talented writing student, 17-year-old Mary D'Annunzio. The three friends spend one last night together dancing and drinking at Uncle Blue's nightclub. Amid the false merriment, Monty is summoned upstairs to a heart-stopping confrontation with his former boss. Brilliantly conceived, this gripping crime drama boasts dead-on dialogue, chiaroscuro portraits of New York's social strata and an inescapable crescendo of tension. Monty's solution to his agonizing dilemmas will shock even hardened suspense lovers. Film rights to New Line Cinema for a movie to star Toby McGuire. (Jan.) Forecast: With the hip talk and high tension of Richard Price's Clockers, and the assured prose and grasp of character of a seasoned novelist, Benioff's debut may hit the cash registers right out of the gate. It's no wonder that Benioff has been nominated for the New York Public Library's Young Lions Award, or that the book carries happy blurbs from George P. Pelacanos, Vincent Patric and Ann Patchett. Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Debut novelist Benioff pitches his tent next to a New York drug dealer in the grueling final hours before he goes off to begin a prison term. There was nothing unusual about the bust. The Feds knocked polite as you pleased on Monty Brogan's door, showed their warrant to Monty and his live-in Naturelle Rosario, and within minutes had found enough to put him away for seven years. And when you come right down to it, there's nothing very unusual about Monty—who started dealing back in his school days at Campbell-Sawyer but still dreams his childhood dream of growing up to be a fireman—or of his last day and night of freedom either. There'll be the requisite tender moments with Monty's father and Naturelle; the obligatory scene in which Monty reminds Uncle Blue, his supplier, that he hasn't rolled over on him yet and doesn't intend to; Monty's appeal to his old buddies to take care of the pit bull he rescued and nursed back to health and trust four years ago; and of course the after-dinner drinks with Monty's nearest and dearest. What makes Benioff's take on this tale so special is his deep trust in the ordinariness of it all, and the persistence of his supporting cast in thinking, as even your best friends will, that this night is all about them. Monty's friend Frank Slattery can't forget the two million he made in nine minutes of bond trading just that morning. Wallflower Jakob Elinsky, an alumnus of Campbell-Sawyer who's still stuck there as an English teacher, goes into a panic when he sees Mary D'Annunzio, his lippiest student, outside the bar that's been appointed to kick off Monty's last round. And both Monty andhisfather have ideas of their own. As funny and sad asa John Cassavettes movie, but without all that midlife-crisis yammering. Film rights to New Line Cinema

Product Details

Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
Edition description:
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Product dimensions:
5.34(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.58(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Read an Excerpt


THEY FOUND THE black dog sleeping on the shoulder of the West Side Highway, dreaming dog dreams. A crippled castoff, left ear chewed to mince, hide scored with dozens of cigarette burns-a fighting dog abandoned to the mercy of river rats. Traffic rumbled past: vans with padlocked rear doors, white limousines with tinted glass and New Jersey plates, yellow cabs, blue police cruisers.

Monty parked his Corvette on the shoulder and shut off the engine. He stepped from the car and walked over to the dog, followed by Kostya Novotny, who shook his head impatiently. Kostya was a big man. His thick white hands hung from the sleeves of his overcoat. His face had begun to blur with fat; his broad cheeks were red from the cold. He was thirty-five and looked older; Monty was twenty-three and looked younger.

"See?" said Monty. "He's alive."

"This dog, how do you call it?"

"Pit bull. Must have lost somebody some money."

"Ah, pit bull. In Ukraine my stepfather has such dog. Very bad dog, very bad. You have seen dogfights at Uncle Blue's?"


Flies crawled across the dog's fur, drawn by the scent of blood and shit. "What do we do, Monty, we watch him rot?"

"I was thinking of shooting him."

Awake now, the dog stared impassively into the distance, his face lit by passing headlights. The pavement by his paws was littered with broken glass, scraps of twisted metal, black rubber from blown tires. A concrete barricade behind the dog, separating north- and southbound traffic, bore the tag SANE SMITH in spray-painted letters three feet high.

"Shooting him? Are you sick in the head?"

"They just left him here to die," said Monty. "Theythrew him out the window and kept driving."

"Come, my friend, it is cold." A ship's horn sounded from the Hudson. "Come, people wait for us."

"They're used to waiting," said Monty. He squatted down beside the dog, inspecting the battered body, trying to determine if the left hip was broken. Monty was pale-skinned in the flickering light, his black hair combed straight back from a pronounced widow's peak. A small silver crucifix hung from a silver chain around his neck; silver rings adorned the fingers of his right hand. He leaned a little closer and the dog scrambled upright, lunged for the man's face, came close enough that Monty, stumbling frantically backward, could smell the dog's foul breath. The effort left the pit bull panting, his compact, muscular frame quivering with each rasped breath. But he remained in his crouch, watching the two men, his ears, the mangled and the good, drawn back against his skull.

"Christ," said Monty, sitting on the pavement. "He's got some bite left."

"I think he does not want to play with you. Come, you want police to pull over? You want police looking through our car?"

"Look what they did to him, Kostya. Used him for a fucking ashtray."

A passing Cadillac sped by them, honking twice, and the two men stared after it until its taillights disappeared around a bend.

Monty rose to his feet and dusted his palms on the seat of his pants. "Let's get him in the trunk."


"There's a vet emergency room on the East Side. I like this guy."

"You like him? He tries to bite your face off. Look at him, he is meat. You want some dog, I buy you nice puppy tomorrow."

Monty was not listening. He walked back toward his car, opened the trunk, pulled out a soiled green army blanket. Kostya stared at him, holding up his hands. "Wait one second, please. Please stop one minute? I do not go near pit bull. Monty? I do not go near pit bull."

Monty shrugged. "This is a good dog. I can see it in his eyes. He's a tough little bastard."

"Yes, he is tough. He grew up in bad neighborhood. That is why I stay away from him."

The light shining down from above cast deep shadows beneath Monty's cheekbones. "Then I'll do it myself," he said.

By now the dog had slumped back to the pavement, still struggling to keep his head up, to keep his glazing eyes focused on the two men.

"Look at him," said Monty. "We wait much longer, he'll be dead."

"One minute ago you want to shoot him."

"That was a mercy thing. But he's not ready to go yet."

"Yes? He told you this? You know when he is ready to go?"

Monty carefully circled behind the dog, holding the army blanket as a matador holds his cape. "It's like a baby, they hate getting shots from the doctor. They're screaming and crying as soon as they see the needle. But in the long run, it's good for them. Here, distract him."

Kostya shook his head with the air of one who had long suffered his friend's lunacies, then kicked a soda can. The dog's eyes pivoted to follow the movement. Monty hurled the blanket over the dog and sprang forward, wrapping his arms around the dog's midsection. The dog growled and wrestled with the wool, sinking his teeth into the fabric and shaking it violently, trying to break the blanket's neck. Monty managed to stand, struggling to maintain his bear hug, but the dog, slick with blood, slithered madly in his grasp like a monstrous newborn. Monty lurched toward the Corvette as the pit bull released the blanket and turned his head, snapping viciously, his jaws inches from Monty's throat. He clawed at Monty's arms until Monty hurled him into the trunk, the dog still biting as he fell into the hollow of the spare tire, trying unsteadily to regain his footing as the lid slammed shut.

Monty picked up the army blanket and returned to the driver's seat. Kostya stared at the sky for a moment and then joined his friend in the Corvette. The entire encounter had lasted five minutes.

"What goes on in your little head?" asked Kostya, after Monty had tossed the blanket into the well behind his seat and started the car. "That was very stupid thing you did. Most stupid thing you ever did. No, I take that back. Lydia Eumanian was most stupid thing you ever did."

"I got him, didn't I?" said Monty, grinning. "A little of the tricks, a little of the quicks, boom! Nabbed." He checked his mirrors and pulled onto the highway, heading uptown again.

"Yes. The quicks. Meanwhile, you are bleeding. You get bit."

"No, that's the dog's blood."

Kostya raised his eyebrows. "Yes? Because you have hole in your neck and blood is coming out."

Monty lifted his hand to his neck, felt the warm dribble of blood. "Just a scratch."

"A scratch, oh. Meanwhile, you bleed to death. And you need rabies shot."

"They'll stitch it up at the vet's." Behind them the dog thrashed around in the trunk, his bellows muted by the traffic.

"What? The vet? You bleed all over car, you die, your father yells at me. Oh, boo-hoo, boo-hoo, you let Monty die. No, please. Go to Seventh Avenue, there is Saint Something, a real hospital."

"We're going to the vet." The blood ran down Monty's arm, soaking his shirtsleeve, puddling at the elbow.

"Rule number one," said Kostya, "don't grab half-dead pit bulls. We have people waiting for us, people with money, and you play cowboy-no, dogboy-in middle of highway. You're bad luck; you put bad luck on me. Always everything that can go wrong, goes wrong. Doyle's Law. It is not just you and me when we go out, no, no, it is Monty, Kostya, and Mister Doyle of Doyle's Law."

"Doyle? You mean Murphy."

"Who's Murphy?"

"Who's Doyle? Murphy's Law," said Monty. "Whatever can go wrong will go wrong."

"Yes," said Kostya. "Him."

From that day on the dog was Doyle.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher
"Captivating . . . A pungent, funny, urban tableau full of shrewd operators and unfulfilled desires." (The New York Times)

"Tight and crisp . . . . The 25th Hour shines. It couldn't get much better." (San Francisco Chronicle)

"Remarkable . . . A darkly human novel that ends up more about hope than about cynicism." (The Denver Post)

Meet the Author

David Benioff was born and raised in New York City. He adapted his first novel, The 25th Hour, into the feature film directed by Spike Lee. With many other screenplays to his credit, he is also the writer of the films, "Brothers" and "X-Men Origins: Wolverine". Stories from his critically acclaimed collection When the Nines Roll Over appeared in Best New American Voices and The Best Nonrequired American Reading. His latest novel is City of Thieves. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife and daughter where he is a co-creator and writer for the HBO hit series "Game of Thrones."  

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25th Hour 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 22 reviews.
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SavageBS More than 1 year ago
Great book! Monty Brogan has 24 hours until he has to check into prison. His last night in the city and his last chance to find out who set him up?, someone did and he's determined to find out who. I've seen this movie several times over before I figured out that it was a book first. Finally I got around to reading it. Even though I read several other reviews saying how the book was just like the script of the movie. WRONG! The movie is excellent, but its still a movie. The book had so much more outstanding dialogue between the characters and lengthy but very good character descriptions. Monty Brogan is an unforgettable character, his girlfriend Naturelle and ragged pit bull Doyle are also good. Loved the New York City descriptions, although I have never been there, Benioff made it easy to picture it. Benioff is my favorite author, his third book "City of Thieves" is one of my all time favorites. If you liked "The 25th Hour", do yourself a favor and check out "City of Thieves" & his book of short stories "When the Nines Roll Over"! Enjoy!!
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Like the reviewer from the Denver Post said, a book about hope. Makes me want to live in New York and work on a farm in the country at the same time. I am a twenty six year old male. These three men, they are me, they are my friends. My cousin is Frank, I used to roll with Monty, one's doing time in some joint in Oklahoma, the other, still stoned? I sure hope he married that girl and is taking care of his boy... And me... sometimes, I hate to say this, I'm Mr. "she'll be twenty-two when I'm thrity-one" Elinsky. Like "Fight Club" it speaks to the deep confusion of the American male at the turn of the millienum. Its time to become men, you boys. Loved this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. At first I didnt want to read it because the subject matter is not something i would normally gravitate towards(lower/middle class guy who deals drugs and has to go to prison. The back drop set in the concrete and grey world of New York City) . After the second or third chapter I was surprisingly hooked.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is how to write a book. The plot and characters come to life in this well developed and riveting novel.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A recommended book for adolescents and adults. Dares us to ask ourselves what we would do in an uncompromising situation. Mr. Benioff has a great voice.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A compelling whirlwind novel that brings us to terms with our own relashonships. From the first page on, you won't be able to put it down! David Benioff builds his characters like the building blocks of life, for all to see. Suspenseful and cleverly romantic, the mysterious title is the prediction of a volcanic ending. Wow!
Guest More than 1 year ago
It is so rare to find a first novel this spot on in so many ways. The different worlds that make New York City so amazing are rendered here in perfect tone.I read this book in one sitting simply because I had to. The story was that involving and the writing was that finely crafted. Nothing seemed forced from the humor to the pathos. The writing was so beautiful and this debut such a great 'yarn' that as I finished it, all I could do was smile at where I had been taken by the author. Bravo Mr. Benioff!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Never heard of this guy but he's the real thing. His writing is hypnotic -- finally turned out the lights at four in the morning, then dove right in again when I woke up. Benioff's got a sense of humor, too: there's some laugh-out-loud scenes in this generally dark, disturbing tale. I'm not sure about the title, but this is a story that will mess with your head for nights to come. Highly recommended.