cover image Sugar Pop Moon: A Jersey Leo Novel

Sugar Pop Moon: A Jersey Leo Novel

John Florio. Prometheus/Seventh Street, $15.95 trade paper (215p) ISBN 978-1-61614-795-2

Set mainly in 1930 New York City, Florio’s lively if disjointed debut introduces Jersey Leo, a mixed-race albino who works as a bartender in a Hell’s Kitchen speakeasy called the Pour House. The pay is considerable, but so are Leo’s problems: he’s been conned into spending $4,800 of his boss’s money on worthless moonshine rather than the prime “sugar pop moon” that was expected. Now Leo must get the money back from a Philadelphia scam artist before his volatile boss finds out. Leo’s aggressive actions infuriate the Philadelphia mob and the corrupt police, while he becomes a target of a notorious voodoo sect with its own horrendous agenda. Haphazard flashbacks to 1906 covering the bitter story of Leo’s father, a black prizefighter who had a brief and unhappy liaison with Leo’s mother, could have been better coordinated. Still, the brisk story and its unusual hero pack a considerable punch. Agent: Elizabeth Evans, Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency. (July)