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Sugar Pop Moon: A Jersey Leo Novel Paperback – July 9, 2013

4.5 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews
Book 1 of 2 in the Jersey Leo Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Jersey Leo is a mixed-race albino working as a bartender in a Hell’s Kitchen speakeasy. His father, a former boxing champion, doesn’t approve of his son working for gangsters, and Jersey doesn’t know who his mother was. Jersey gets a great deal on some moonshine called Sugar Pop Moon, but when he serves the first pour, he realizes he’s been taken in a bait-and-switch operation. His boss is out of town, giving Jersey a couple of days to get the money back and replace the shine or he’s a dead man. He chases the con artist to Philadelphia, where a crazed man with a hatchet tries to kill him. Jersey turns to his father for help and, in the process, learns about his mother and her family. This is a hard-boiled, Prohibition-era novel and Jersey Leo is a well-developed, engaging character. The story moves fast, the violence is appropriate to the times, and there are laugh-out-loud moments amid the mayhem. Sure to appeal to fans of Mickey Spillane, Raymond Chandler, and, more currently, Robert Fate’s edgy Baby Shark series. --Stacy Alesi

Review

"Don’t miss this absolutely riveting, gritty debut coming-of-age tale. Absorbing and briskly paced, the story toggles deftly between 1906 and 1930. Despite abundant gunfire and bloodshed, the novel manages to successfully incorporate an idealistic tone. For readers who follow Kelli Stanley’s “Miranda Corbie” series or Reed Farrel Coleman’s “Moe Prager” books."
Library Journal

“A delicious journey through the underworld of Prohibition and Depression America, by turns funny, poignant, and thrilling. A terrific read!”
Kevin Baker, bestselling author of Dreamland, Paradise Alley, and Strivers Row

“John Florio’s powerful use of historical detail slams you into the gritty world of 1930s bootleggers, where his hero, albino Jersey Leo, holds you down for the count. Harsh as a slug of 190-proof moonshine.” 
Rebecca CantrellNew York Times–bestselling author of A City of Broken Glass

“Authentic period, savvy style, and memorable characters—particularly the albino protagonist, Jersey Leo—combined with a suspense tale well told adds up to a winning combination. Don’t miss it.”
Kelli Stanley, award-winning author of City of Dragons and City of Secrets

“This is a hard-boiled, Prohibition-era novel and Jersey Leo is a well-developed, engaging character. The story moves fast, the violence is appropriate to the times, and there are laugh-out-loud moments amid the mayhem. Sure to appeal to fans of Mickey Spillane, Raymond Chandler, and, more currently, Robert Fate’s edgy Baby Shark series.” 
Booklist
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Product Details

  • Series: Jersey Leo
  • Paperback: 215 pages
  • Publisher: Seventh Street Books; First Edition edition (July 9, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1616147954
  • ISBN-13: 978-1616147952
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #143,571 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you're a fan of Hammett or Chandler, do yourself a favor and snatch up a copy of John Florio's Sugar Pop Moon. Florio gives his main character, Snowball, a simple problem to solve: a double-crossed booze delivery. But this acts merely as the starting point for a whip-cracking race along the Eastern seaboard as characters run afoul of hard men, thugs, and voodoo fanatics between New York and Philly.

At times, it's clear that this is a freshman novel--there is a slight dependency on exposition, and neither of the two female characters are developed. But these minor issues pale in comparison to the amazing pacing, and the way Florio weaves the first-person, white-knuckle, action-packed prohibition-era adventure with the story of Snowball's father as a boxer who gets caught up in both racial inequity and mobster's avarice. Florio's senses of humor and the every-day-absurd shine through with a clarity that will leave you chuckling, entranced, and gripped.

It's rare that I read a book in a single sitting. This was one of them.
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Format: Paperback
Enjoyed this book immensely. Wasn't sure when I bought it whether it was for me--I don't read a lot of noir novels--but the story surprised me with how well it portrayed it's fascinating lead character in the context of a thrilling ride through the Prohibition era. I read it in two days, not the usual two months it takes me to read a book. Readable, not pretentious, left me with vivid images of many of the characters. Looking forward to a sequel if there is one, want to see where the main character, Jersey Leo, goes next. One of the most enjoyable novels I've read this year.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This novel goes down easy as the "Sugar Pop Moon" moonshine that provides the title. If I were going to compare it to other books and movies, I'd say it's one part "Miller's Crossing" with one part "Boardwalk Empire" with a few drops of Lawrence Block's excellent Matthew Scudder series mixed in. As a reader, I liked how the author shifted from 1930 to an even earlier era to provide the characters' history. The prohibition-era settings from Baltimore to Philadelphia to Brooklyn rang true. The time period and the mobsters really came alive. As a longtime print journalist, I loved the newspaper history as we follow the story of a young reporter on the trail of what really happened during a brutal 1906 prize fight. Tweeting the news just ain't the same. The main character, Jersey Leo, is a standout because he's an albino with a lot of moxy and a wonderful voice: "I get out of the car and Philly's icy air makes my eyes feel like they've been doused in bathtub gin." You enjoy spending time with this guy. I have to say that "Sugar Pop Moon" actually left me thirsty with its many descriptions of boozy speakeasies, but mostly I wouldn't mind another round of Jersey Leo's adventures!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The hero is an interesting character, an African-American Albino at a time when it wasn't too good to even be African American, but the book lacked some pacing and at times the plot seemed a little forced, That said, I think this series and the author has potential.He certainly didn't have stock characters and his protagonist wasn't some type of super hero like so many contemporary crime stories seem to feature. The setting was in a time period that we don't see much. I'm up for the next book.
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Format: Paperback
Sugar Pop Moon
John Florio
Seventh Street Books/Prometheus, Jul 9 2013, $15.95
ISBN: 9781616147952

In 1930 Manhattan, Jimmy McCullough hires Jersey "Snowball" Leo to work at his mob-owned speakeasy Pour House because no one forgets seeing an albino; except perhaps his mother who deserted him (and his dad) when he was a baby. Snowball buys top quality booze for the bar, but the booze proves to be fake Sugar Pop Moon.

Knowing he will be blamed by his violent employers, Snowball searches for the missing seller to get back the money; but fails to find him while struggling through misadventures in Philadelphia at the same time someone stalks him. Snowball concludes he needs help. He turns to his pop, a former boxing champ who never hides his scorn of his offspring especially for working at a mob establishment. Father and son pursue the moonshine distributer

This is an exciting coming of age Prohibition Era noir. The cast is very strong, but obviously this is Snowball's tale as he (and his father) tries to save his life while finding out revelations about himself and his family. Readers will enjoy this solid historical crime thriller and want a matured Snowball to return.

Harriet Klausner
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Enjoyed the characters throughout the book and wanted to read more. Hope there is a sequel of some sort just to see where they end up in older age. Especially since the book is set in prohibition days. Things have changed so much.
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