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The 25th Hour
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Penzler Pick, January 2001: The 25th Hour is a wonderfully written first novel that convincingly portrays the New York City of Wall Street brokers and middle-class white drug dealers, the new affluent class in a city where money can buy you almost anything and is often the most important factor in young people's lives.

Monty Brogan is about to start his last day of freedom before turning himself into the authorities and serving a seven-year term for drug dealing. He's a charming young man who had always dreamed of being a fireman, following in the working-class footsteps of his father, who has had to put up his bar in Queens as bond so that his son can stay out of jail until his sentence begins. Monty, named for Montgomery Clift, does not know how he managed to get himself into this predicament. It was easy money and it carried so many perks, and you'll feel more than a little sympathy for this young man who has managed to kill his own dream for courtside seats at Madison Square Garden.

But before he goes to prison, Monty wants to have one last night out on the town with his two best friends. Frank Slattery is a bond trader, one of the best and most successful risk takers in a very risky business. The other is Jakob Elinsky, an English teacher who envies his friends' lifestyles but who has no intention of ever giving up his job for the easy money, despite the disillusionment of teaching high school students in a tough school.

The three young men enjoy the night into the early morning as they eat, drink, and visit the hottest spots in town. It's a sad night for Monty, but he has a plan that neither Frank nor Jacob know about--and it makes for a shocking ending to this brilliant and disturbing story. --Otto Penzler

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.

"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)

Customer Reviews:

  • The 25th Hour in 4 Hours
    I'm not normally a very fast reader. My concentration slips, or I start watching Tv, or the phone rings. But from the first page of this book I was hooked. Except for a quick bathroom break I didn't look up again until the final page. And the final page was so good I read it three times!

    My favorite character is Jakob, a high school teacher. His friend Monty is the star of the story, I guess, but Jakob is the one I identify with, a guy who genuinely wants to do the right thing but always seems to blow it.

    My one objection here is the amount of profanity, but I guess that's pare for the course these days in fiction. And it is about a man going to prison, so I suppose it would be a little weird if he spoke like a choirboy.

    The year is young, but this is my #1 so far. Beats the new Grisham by a country mile, that's for sure....more info

  • Character study with no real conflict
    The lead character, Monty Brogan, is a drug dealer sentenced to seven years in prison. Out on bail, he spends his last full day of freedom contemplating his life, his failures, attending a going away party for himself at a swanky nightclub, saying goodbye to his friends, and facing the drug dealer who believes Monty may have ratted him out. This character study is well-written, and all the characters--even the minor ones--are well drawn and true to life. David Benioff really captures the feel of New York City, the cold of a NY winter, the physical and emotional beating all the characters take (Benioff switches character POV chapter to chapter). But if you're expecting something exciting to happen, don't hold your breath. This is a character study, and frankly half-way through the book I was wondering when something would happen. There really isn't any conflict to speak off--except for maybe whether Monty will turn himself in at the end or not. If you go in to this book just expecting to know some characters deeply, be a part of their lives for 24 hours, share their history, unfulfilled dreams, and inside jokes then you will be fine....more info
  • Le jouissance du Benioff
    If you only read one book this year...make it DON QUIXOTE. But if you plan on reading TWO books this year, THE 25TH HOUR should be on your short list. Benioff's crisp characterization, ear for dead-on dialogue and reinvention of the Tough Guy subgenre make his first novel a thoroughly enjoyable read. Narcotics, beautiful exotic women, the possibility of illicit passion with underaged girls, the ubiquitous threat of violence, a Hollywood bigshot actor getting what-for...Benioff goes to all the places a writer must needs go to hold the fleeting attentions of the harried modern reader....more info
  • Monty, Naturelle, Doyle.......
    Great book!

    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" & "When the Nines Roll Over" aslo by Benioff!

    Enjoy!!

    ...more info
  • A requiem for a pretty boy drug dealer
    This story takes place in the span of one day. It's a modern tragedy. Consider that we live in a time that being a normal or an "everyday type" is a guarantee slip to falling into obscurity in this life. Not so for Monty Brogan! He is a slick guy,handsome, charismatic with a good heart and a personal sense of honor. The tragedy of this story is that he could have been anything. Even a fireman, something he wished since he was a child. He wanted to be something of a hero, someone who saves others. However, he becomes a drug dealer, not for money, or for power, but for "sway." Sway (juice, jale, influence, etc.) is the aura akin to celebrity status; the need never to wait in line, never having to wait for a table at a fancy restauraunt, always having the v.i.p. room, and so on. This ability of having "sway" makes him feel important and in the character's mind a sort of anti-hero because he is able to provide for those around him. He can buy his girlfriend, Naturalle, gifts and elevates her status to more than just a lower east side Puerto Rican. Both characters Slattery (bond trader) and Elinsky (teacher) always engange in envy that borders on hero worship. For Elinsky, he serves as a remote hero/ big brother character he could never be, he may wish to be, but he is not born with Monty's unassuming panache. Monty has rumors and stories spread about him the way personalities such as Bugsy Siegel, Billy the Kid, James Dean, and so on had; their is definately an element of "coolness" in the book. However, this element of "coolness" is uncontrived, the book ultimately remains a meditation on the value of freedom and a janus faced look on life (looking to the future and the past at the same time), exploring unfulfilled dreams and having the depth of character to explore them fully through a personal- hard won perspective on life. Reminds me of something Hemingway or Faulkner in that right. Benioff has a good ear for street talk, not as good as Mamet, but he could hold his own. I highly recommend this book....more info
  • Engrossing, frightening and finally heartbreaking.
    I felt as if I was spending the last day of freedom with the criminal. A simple premise I cannot ever remember having seen handled before.The author's message is conveyed without moralising, we understand the protaganist's crimes but do not condemn him. The characters are interesting, numerous and excellently balanced within the small novel. Benioff also managed to finish the novel wonderfully.

    Give it a read....more info

  • Character development in the backdrop of NYC
    The 25th Hour delves the reader into not only the world of a "convict soon to be", but into a rich character study as we meet and focus on the significant persons in Monty's life. For me, a major portion of the character study was New York itself, which in my opinion is one of the defining characters of The 25th Hour. Each character is brought to life in a unique way and is memorialized not only in Monty's mind, but the reader's as well.These persons seem to come to life in the backdrop of New York City. I found myself going back and re-reading and actually thinking through the principle charcaters in the book. I am not a big fan of sequel books, but I am very intrigued and would be so very interested in Monty's post-prison experience.It would be fascinating to pick up the character development as well as the story line.This was an excellent novel and I recommend it to the reader who gets absorbed and lost in character development....more info
  • Vrrrooom!
    This novel gets going from the first line and never falters. I read it while travelling by Eurostar from London to Paris and then back again, totalling less than five hours. But while the tome is slim, it's far from lightweight. The characters are moody and complex, the story is fascinating, and the writing exquisite. I'm trying to write screenplays myself, and I found myself studying Benioff's dialogue. Such rhythm and range!...more info
  • SAD
    This is a story about sad individuals and their sad lives. They have no redeeming values whatsoever. A waste of time and money....more info
  • Forgettable
    I'm really glad that I read David Benioff's CITY OF THIEVES before reading 25th HOUR. If I had read the latter first, I would never have given CITY OF THIEVES a chance (which would be a shame since that novel was great). 25th HOUR has nothing to redeem it. The title character is a cliche. A drug dealer who likes people to suck up to him---big deal. The only thing I liked about Monty was that he rescued a pit bull from death. Also, what's with his girlfriend's name: Naturelle?? Give me a break. In fact, most of the other characters in the novel are somewhat cliche and not likable.

    Normally, I don't mind a novel that is light on plot, but the many unresolved conflicts in the novel are frustrating. Minor conflicts are introduced for seemingly no purpose as none of them is resolved. Also, --and this is just a personal preference---I don't care for the use of a omniscient narrative written in present tense ("Monty refills his glass"). I hate it, as a matter of fact.

    As much as I hate to write this, this novel seems like the effort of an immature writer. I was not impressed....more info
  • Effective neo-noir character study
    I'm personally a big fan of crime/thriller writers like Jim Thompson and Dashiell Hammett and I think David Benioff's writing falls into the same league as these guys. The plot is not all that complicated, but Benioff paints a very realistic portrait of these characters. Indeed, I really enjoyed how Benioff used the third-person omniscient to get into each character's head. I won't rehash what the story is about, but I will say that it's a pretty satisfying and gritty NYC-based story. I like short books, but this felt a little too short -- thus I'm giving it four stars. I want to know what happens to Monty after the drive. Was that his real or imaginary future described at the end? Did somebody say "sequel"?

    SIDENOTE: Benioff recently sold a script entitled STAY for reportedly $1.8 million to Regency, a film production company -- the largest spec screenplay sale in recent history. That's the main reason why I wanted to read this. Interestingly enough, he re-uses a line of dialogue from this story in his script STAY....more info

  • a little noir music
    i love noir. what can i tell you? i'm obsessed with chandler, hammett, mcdonald, and jim thompson. what do all those guys have in common? they're dead! recent noir's been pretty tepid stuff, following the path of the masters' but never striking forth in search of new territory. so i was suspicious when i read all the glowing reviews of this little novel. but listen to me, brothers and sisters: this cat's for real. the book howls out and keeps howling and then it's over and you want more, more. monty brogan is in many ways a jerk but i can't help liking him, and his friend jakob is a good kid who somehow finds himself caught up in a bunch of stuff he never wanted to get caught up in. even frank, who's a bit of a bully and a braggart, is redeemed by his sense of loyalty and friendship. i don't want to give anything away, but the ending's worth a prize.

    the best noir novel in twenty-seven years....more info

  • One of my all time favorite books
    I had wanted to read this since I had saw the previews of the movie of the same name. I was blown away by Benioff's style and how he brings you inside the hearts and the minds of the characters. My favorite character had to be the frustrated English teacher, he was so realistic. Monty was the ultimate bad guy that we want to root for. This was a powerful novel and another must read for everyone....more info
  • There is a very good short story here...
    I enjoyed the chapter where Monty almost helps kill a Hollywood actor. Very fun to read as a short story. And the 'preface' was also enjoyable. The rest of the book was rather unsatisfying.

    So in short - read the preface than read chapter 9. Then, put the book back on the shelf.

    All in all, David Benioff's first effort reminds me of Brett Easton Ellis' first effort: a peak into the daily life of any "Joe Human Being" where the only real struggle is internal - the struggle of humanity.

    Camus does it better....more info
  • An excellent debut that leaves you waiting for Benioff's next novel
    A first novel and rightly feted for both its story impact plus being immediately acquired for a Spike Lee film adaptation given its NY setting. Benioff has written for popular magazines for a long time in honing his story telling skills and it shows in the conciseness with which each chapter is delivered in this novel.

    It achieves a great mix of a tantalising story of how a convicted drug dealer spends his last 24 hours before going into jail for 7 years with numerous feedbacks explaining how he got there. But while using its NY setting well the real essence of why the story works so well is the exploration of the different levels of friendship across the 24 hours. These range from a pitbull dog the main character picked up when it was left to die on the freeway; his two lifelong but very different in attitude school friends; his Puerto Rican girlfriend; his widowed father who has stood bail; his Ukrainian bodyguard and his Russian drug boss.

    The story sizzles in mood changes and you are never left feeling this is simply a crime story but more the crime becomes the backdrop against which the story unfolds.

    The future looks bright if Benioff can maintain this level of quality. ...more info
  • I am adding this book to my top 5 all-time favorites!
    At last...after reading a series of bad books, not-so-good books and, worst of all, those that had such promise but somewhere along the way, took a wrong turn...I have read THE book!

    "The 25th Hour" is one of the best books I have ever read. It is an account of the 24-hour period before a young man convicted of drug dealing is due to start serving a seven-year sentence in a Federal prison.

    During this short time span, you will come face to face with friendship, love, fear, hope and despair. You will spend time with three men who have been friends since middle school. You will get to know them so intimately, it will feel almost intrusive. Along the way, you will meet their parents, friends, lovers and enemies.

    I can only urge you to spend some time with these people. When you have read the last word on the last page, you will be trembling, crying or just sitting in awe of the ride you have just been on....more info

  • Character study
    For a short quick read, you get an intimate snapshot of a place and time. Pretty straighforward plot that outlines the day before Monty Brogan spends 7 years in a federal prison. Good rainy day read....more info
  • I LIKE STORIES ABOUT THE RUSSIAN MOB AND DOGS
    Doyle is a black dog our protagonist Monty (Montgomery) Brogan found by the side of the road and took in. Beat up and scarred, Doyle is the opposite of pretty boy Monty, a young New York drug dealer, for whom women and money have come easily - so far. But now he has been ratted out and must do seven years, with no time for good behavior, at Otisville. So he and his two buds from high school, Jakob and Slattery, and his Puerto Rican girffriend Naturelle - and Doyle - have one last night on the town before Monty takes that bus trip to federal prison at the 25th hour. Providing the background menace is the Russian mob, headed by Uncle Blue, who are part of the illicit drug trade. Mr. Benioff explores lives of Slattery and Jakob, especially nerdy teacher Jakob, and the relationship between Naturelle and Monty. There are lessons to be learned in this first novel, including The Road Not Taken and the risks of being a criminal. This is noir genre, so don't look for a rosy ending. But I thought the ending was satisfying and real. It didn't keep me up all night turning pages with an electric page-turner but overall it is a well-written, literate crime novel about life among twenty-somethings in New York, albeit one who is a drug dealer. I like stories about the Russian mob and dogs. Buy this one....more info
  • Repression, insecurity, jealousy, failure,and wry humor
    This is a fine book. Benioff portrays an ecclectic assortment of characters whose personalities, and interconnections are distinctively New York. Where else would working class Irish, middle class Jews, Puerto Ricans, upper crust WASPS, and the Russian mob have reason to associate and become emmeshed in each others' lives?

    This is tale is also a reflection of the current age, with it's depiction of upward striving, class barriers, unfulfilled promise, ephemeral wealth, and self destructive tendancies. Benioff's metaphors are colorful, vivid, and thought provoking. Yet this is all depicted with the ironic, sardonic humor characteristic of New York.

    "The 25th Hour" is a splendid, very satisfying book. I savored it completely....more info

  • A Cliche Plagued First Novel
    The concept of an upper middle class white kid facing hard time had such potential for good, subtle tension and conflict. Unfortunately, in the hands of Mr. Benioff the story drags, hindered by cliche characters and jumbled prose. Uncle Blue, the drug supplying boss of the title characer, is a ridiculous caricature of a tough, flamboyant criminal. More of a cartoon than a real character, UNcle Blue's dialogue is painful to read. For modern noir realism and decent hardboiled writing stick to writers such as Peter Dexter and Johnathan Lethem....more info
  • Reviewers Pack Mentality is Worrying
    I've seen this happen before with books like 'Prague,' and 'Wonder Boys.' The book doesn't, cannot, support the hype. This book by David Benioff is a cute book. It's not going to be a classic, and will undoubtedly be forgotten in less than 12 months after the release of the movie. Why are the reviewers talking about "ringing the cash registers?" Is that a valid critical standard for the judging of new fiction? What's wrong with this country's critics -- are they afraid to stand out, to part with the crowd like the little boy who saw the king was wearing no clothes? It's worrying. The book is being hyped. It's not that good....more info
  • THESE ARE MY BOYS
    Halfway thru I thought, uh huh, these are my boys, I grew up with guys like this, I know them. But it doesn't matter if your from Brooklyn or Arkansas or Katmandoo, you know these guys. I wanted to protect Jacob. I wanted to smack Frank Slattery. And I wanted to find Montgomery Brogan when he was young and tell him to take a different path. When a book makes you care this much, it must be good....more info
  • mild torture
    Well fleshed out characters who do what you think they should do. Since this is his first book, I'm sure subsequent works will be met wtih a keener editor's pen. Includes some interesting trivia, particularly the ball/rat torture trick..yikes....more info
  • Very disappointing
    Perhaps I'm not sufficiently nostalgic about New York city, where the events take place. Or should I say 'lack of events'. The first 190 pages follow 5 characters going through the paces of their lives the day before one of them starts a 7-year prison sentence. Their lives are largely uneventful, although they were portrayed realistically. Then, in the last 4 pages, some activity occurs and the book ends. There was no real tension, no suspense. The ending was neither shocking nor surprising. I'm glad I only spent 3 days getting through it....more info
  • Surprisingly Enjoyable
    The 25th Hour is not the usual type of book I read, and I must say the only reason I did was for a class I'm taking. I was surprised to find that I actually enjoyed reading about hours preceding Monty's stay in prison. Although characterized as a crime novel, I found The 25th Hour to be more of a character study of Monty and his friends then what a person would typically think of as a crime novel. It was easy to fall into the story and find yourself surrounded by the lives of Monty, Jacob, and Frank. To see into the lives of these childhood friends, who have each taken different paths in life but still come together for one last party as a way to celebrate Monty as well as mourn his departure to prison. Reading The 25th Hour left me wanting to keep learning more about these characters, especially how there lives continue after Monty is in prison and the group is no longer all together as they once were.

    I encourage everyone to take a chance to read The 25th Hour, even it didn't look all that appealing at first. I took a chance and found a book I enjoyed without really meaning to. Hopefully others who read The 25th Hour will find the same kind joy from reading that I did.
    ...more info
  • Excellent, quick read
    This is an excellent novel. Rich, spot-on characterizations, perfect pacing, interesting subject matter, and in possession of quite possibly my favorite last line of a book ever. That this is Benioff's first novel gives me hope. Young writers this assured are always a good sign! Can't wait to see what he does next. How Spike Lee could take material this alive and turn it so boring -- and from Benioff's screenplay, no less! -- is beyond me. Skip the film, cherish the novel....more info
  • I think I'm in love
    I don't like to read the reviews before I read the book; too often they give something important away. But I read them now, after finishing, and what's interesting is that nobody really talks about how disgustingly charming Monty Brogan is. I mean, he's fictional, you're not supposed to have a crush on him! So here I am, having read the book twice (twice!) in two weeks, and I can't get Monty out of my head. It's not that he's good looking, because, obviously, I can't see him on the page. And it's not that he's a French Existentialist quoting Sartre, either, cause that's definitely not Monty. What is it about him? He's a small-time drug dealer headed for prison in 24 hours. Why should I care? Why am I, scarily, falling in love with a figment of somebody else's imagination?

    I guess that's the joy of fiction, of a story well told, but it's frustrating to be thinking all the time about a guy you can never ever meet. Talk about unrequited love! Maybe there will be a sequel someday, but I doubt it....more info

  • decent book fast read
    I agree with some of the other reviews in that this book had potential to be a excellent book but did not measure up when it came to the ending.

    The book starts out with monty last day before he is going to prison on a seven for getting popped for drugs.It follows his desire to be a fireman,and deals with his and girlfriends relationship and his buddy doyle a dog he rescues from certain death.
    It follows the big going away party with all his friends and the end results.But the ending was disappointing...more info

  • Best new book/writer-- give us more!!!
    I can only hope that David Benioff can write his next one with the same speed that I devoured his book. This was the best book I've read in ages, and I can't wait for the movie.

    Every reader will know these characters, will know these places and will know and understand the decisions between right, wrong, and maybe that face the book's main characters-- and that knowledge and familiarity is what makes this novel so spectaular.

    Congratulations to Mr. Benioff for writing a world-class novel. YV....more info

  • The new Jay McInerney???
    As a writer myself I almost hate to admit it, but this is a dman good novel. It's been classified as a crime novel, but its not really. It's more of a coming-of-age novel about three longtime friends, all of whom have their lives thrown into crisis when one of them is being sent up the river on a seven-year bit. The writing is sharp and thoughtful. The book has the feeling of catching a time and place so well that it may be remembered as a small classic.

    I see that David Benioff is being promoted in the same manner Jay McInerny was a couple decades back: pretty boy author catches the zeitgeist. Movie offers, etc. Benioff has real talent (maybe McInerney did too once upon a moon). I'm hoping Benioff has more dedication to his craft than McInerney did and that he doesn't get sucked up by the Hollywood machine. He could be a real interesting novelist worth keeping an eye on....more info

  • 3 Old Pals Roll Thru NYC in 24 Snowy Hours......
    First, the bond trader who's just made a killing for going against the conventional wisdom about the forthcoming unemployment report. Second, the very frustrated private school English teacher, who earns about 3.3% of the aforementioned bond trader.Third, the movie star handsome lady's man who got into drug dealing when young, and through a snipper has 24 hours left before heading to a 7 year federal prison term. We meet the local Ukrianian mafia, some shady club owners, a brainy & foxy high schooler, and many other well drawn, realistic characters crusing through this wintry 24-hour NYC scene. Near perfect, especially for a first novel, and the ending is actually borderline beautiful as our drug dealing anti-hero has to finally decide what to do with his young life....more info
  • Not impressive
    I read this book after having seen the movie and I'l say that this is one of two books where the movie was better. Benniof's characters were more musing and thoughtful than they were complex. There wasn't much of a conflict for the Monty especially. He was so aloof it was disturbing. I didn't feel that he was tortured enough. I didn't even get the sense that he was really all that cool, which is the impression it seems Benniof wants to give. Monty just seems lazy and detatched from the lives of everyone around him. While there are refernces to things that seem to have had an impact on his life in huge ways (e.g. his father's being an alchoholic) these things just seem to be filler to keep the story moving another few inches. This is not a terrible book though. It's just not outstanding....more info