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sugar popJersey Leo is the quintessential outsider-an albino of mixed race. Known as “Snowball” on the street, he makes a living as the bartender at a mob-run speakeasy in Prohibition-era Hell’s Kitchen. Being neither black nor white, he has no group to call his own. His own mother abandoned him as a baby. And his father-a former boxing champ with his own secrets-disapproves of Jersey’s work at a dive owned by one of New York’s most notorious gangsters. So when Jersey inadvertently purchases counterfeit moonshine (“sugar pop moon”) with his boss’s money-a potentially fatal mistake-he must go undercover to track down the bootlegger who took him in.

The clues lead to Philadelphia, where he runs into a cleaver-swinging madman out for his femurs and a cold-blooded gangster holed up on a Christmas-tree farm. Now with a price on his head in two cities, Jersey seeks help from the only man he can trust, his father. As the two delve into the origins of the mysterious sugar pop moon, stunning secrets about Jersey’s past come to light. To ensure his future, Jersey must face his past, even if it means that life will never return to normal.

SUGAR POP MOON is available from Amazon.


“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

“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 Cantrell, New 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


John Florio is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in print, on the web, and on television. He is also the author of One Punch from the Promised Land: Leon Spinks, Michael Spinks, and the Myth of the Heavyweight Title. He lives in Brooklyn, New York, and is at work on the next Jersey Leo novel. Visit him at