The 25th Hour

The 25th Hour

4.3 22
by David Benioff

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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


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 heralds the arrival of a major player in contemporary noir fiction.

Author Biography: David Benioff has written articles and stories for GQ, Seventeen, and Zoetrope, and anthologies that include The Ex-Files and Best New American Voices 2000.

Editorial Reviews
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

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)

Product Details

Avalon Publishing Group
Publication date:
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
6.35(w) x 9.30(h) x 0.80(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Monty has sat on this bench a hundred times, but today he studies the view. This is his favorite spot in the city. This is what he wants to see when he closes his eyes in the place he's going: the green river, the steel bridges, the red tugboats, the stone lighthouse, the smokestacks and warehouses of Queens. This is what he wants to see when his eyes are closed, tomorrow night and every night after for seven years; this is what he wants to see when the electronically controlled gates have slammed shut, when the fluorescent lights go down and the dim red security lights go up, during the nighttime chorus of whispered jokes and threats, the grunts of masturbation, the low thump of heavy bass from radios played after hours against rules. Twenty-five hundred nights in Otisville, lying on a sweat-stained mattress among a thousand sleeping convicts, the closest friend ninety miles away. Green river, steel bridges, red tugboats, stone lighthouse.

    Monty sits on a bench on the esplanade overlooking the East River, his right hand drumming the splintered slats, the leash wrapped tightly around his wrist. He watches Queens through the curved bars of an iron balustrade, the Triborough Bridge to the north, the 59th Street Bridge to the south. Midway across the river is the northern tip of Roosevelt Island, guarded by an old stone lighthouse.

    The dog wants to run. He battles the leash, straining forward on hind legs, coiled muscles twitching, black lips drawn back from bright fangs. After four years of taking Doyle to the river, Monty knows that letting him loose would bring warto the esplanade. Maybe the pit bull would mount the Dalmatian bitch by the broken water fountain, maybe he'd brawl with the Rottweiler. No matter, splatter the pavement with dog seed or dog blood, sound out the vast arena with barks and yelps—Doyle is ready to go.

    The river flows forty feet below man and dog, muddy green, pierced here and there with the shimmer of aluminum soda cans. A freshly painted red tugboat, flanks studded with truck tires, hauls a garbage barge downstream. Seagulls circle above the barge, cursing each other, white wings translucent in the first minutes of daylight. They dive into the waves and snatch scraps of edible trash, swallowing with a quick jerk of the head.

    Doyle squats down on the pavement and watches the other dogs sadly, his mouth slightly ajar, his tongue leaping out now and again. A swollen-chested pigeon, clawed feet the color of chewed bubble gum, struts forward with bobbing head till the pit bull sends him flying with a casual growl. Three benches away a man practices his chords on a twelve-string guitar. Two young men in hooded sweatshirts pass by, jeans worn below their hips, green letters tattooed on their knuckles. They nod to Monty but he doesn't notice them. He is watching the river run south, the giant smokestacks of Queens blowing white clouds skyward, the tram rising from Roosevelt Island, the shine of traffic on the 59th Street Bridge. A plane climbs above LaGuardia and Monty follows its ascent, the left wing dipping as it angles west. He is intent upon the flight, the ease with which the silver jet speeds away.

    Monty feels tension on the leash spooled around his wrist. Doyle has risen again, to utter a sharp bark of warning at an approaching man. The newcomer stops and waits, a frightened half smile on his face. He is not dressed for the unusual warmth of this January morning: a long scarf looped twice around his neck, a heavy down parka splitting at the seams, rubber boots rising nearly to his knees. He steps from foot to foot, chewing his gum madly.

    "What's up there, Monty? You're out early today."

    The plane has disappeared. Monty nods but does not speak.

    "You want to tell the dog to relax? Hey there, pooch. Hey, good dog. I don't think your dog likes me."

    "Go away, Simon."

    The man nods, rubbing his hands together. "I'm hungry here, Monty. Woke up an hour ago, and I was hungry."

    "Nothing I can do about that. Go up to a Hundred and Tenth."

    "A Hundred and Tenth? Come on, I'm good." He reaches into his pocket and brings out a wad of five-dollar bills held together by a rubber band.

    "Put that away," snaps Monty, and Doyle snarls.

    "Okay, okay. I'm just saying I'm not looking for a mercy pop."

    Monty stares at the lighthouse across the river. "I'm over, man."

    Simon points to a trail of small scabs along his throat. "Look at this. Cut myself shaving this morning—four times! I can't keep my hands steady. Come on, Monty. Help me out here. I can't go to Harlem—look at me. Who do I know in Harlem? They'll gut me up there. I'll be like Jerry running from Tom. Need my cheese, Monty, need my cheese! I'm starving, man."

    There is a long silence and then Monty stands and walks toward the man, closer and closer until their faces are inches apart. "You need to leave me alone, friend. I told you, I'm out of business."

    Doyle sniffs at Simon's boots, then raises his head, snout climbing the man's leg. Simon dances a half step, trying to keep away from the dog without startling him. "What are you talking about? You worried about me narking you out? Look at me, man. You know who I am."

    "You're not listening to me. I got touched. Game over. So back off and go home to your lawyer mother or go to a Hundred and Tenth Street, whatever you want. Just leave me the fuck alone."

    Simon blinks and stumbles backward, tries to laugh, looks behind him, looks down at Doyle, rubs his nose with the back of his hand. "Five years I've been coming to you. All right, no problem. I'll leave. There's no need to be nasty."

    The dog is anxious to move; he tugs at his leash and Monty follows him past the concrete chessboards where the two of them have stood in the summer crowds, watching the duels. Little Vic used to play here; Little Vic who had been grand master at Riker's Island until a Russian got busted on forgery charges and demolished him in four straight games. But no hustlers punch their chess clocks today; too early on a winter's morning. The rubes are all home eating breakfast.

    Monty and Doyle walk west, pausing behind a fence to watch a basketball game, the teenage players taking advantage of the warm air, one last game before school. Doyle sniffs posts that stink of yesterday's piss. Monty assesses the bailers quickly, accurately, and disdainfully. The point can't make an entry pass to save his life; the two guard has no left; the big man down low telegraphs his every shot. Monty remembers a Saturday when he and four friends owned this court, won game after game after game until the losers stumbled away in frustration, an August afternoon when every jump shot was automatic, when he could locate his teammates with his eyes closed and slip them the ball as easy as kissing the bride.

    Man and dog walk down a cascading series of steps into the courtyard of Carl Schurz Park. A square of black bars encloses two rows of stunted gingko trees, their leaves shaped like Japanese fans. Old people, enjoying the weather, gather on the benches that line the gated plot, throwing crumbs to the birds, reading the back pages of the Post, chewing potato knishes. Black women push white babies in plastic strollers. Jagged boulders scrawled with paint serve as markers on the slopes surrounding the courtyard: MIKO+LIZ; 84 BOYS; THE LOWLITE CRUZERS; SANE SMITH. Sane Smith was here. Sane Smith was everywhere. Sane Smith is dead, having jumped from the Brooklyn Bridge. At least that was what Monty heard. The farthest-ranging of New York graffiti artists, Sane Smith wrote his name on billboards and highway overpasses and water tanks everywhere from Far Rockaway to Mosholu Parkway, Sheepshead Bay to Forest Hills, New Lots to Lenox. They'll be scrubbing his name from walls for the next hundred years.

    Doyle pauses to inspect the treasures held in an orange wire-mesh garbage can, but Monty pulls him forward. As they wait for the light to change on East End a fire truck rumbles past, the men on board big-boned and confident, slouched and ready in their high boots. A rear-mount aerial ladder, thinks Monty, and he watches the red truck disappear to the north. You could have been a wonderful fireman, he tells himself. Instead he is here, walking his dog in Yorkville, staring at everything, trying to absorb every detail, the way fresh asphalt spreads like black butter across the avenue, the way taillights at dawn flash and swerve, the way bright windows high above the street hide people he will never meet.

    He passes a diner on Second Avenue. A beautiful girl seated in a booth smiles at him, her chin propped on a menu—but it's too late, she can no longer help. In twenty-four hours he boards a bus for Otisville. Tomorrow at noon he surrenders his name for a number. The beautiful girl is a curse. Her face will haunt him for seven years.

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.