Kiss of the Moonflower

When Professor Veronica Teuma decides to spend part of her sabbatical visiting and studying the “intentional communities” of rural Missouri, Tony Cupelli believes she is at least partly motivated by a desire to escape their complicated relationship. When Tony loses contact with Veronica, he convinces his NYPD detective brother Mike to accompany him to search for her at the two communes where she was last seen. Tony and Mike, two Italian-American working-class born and bred brothers from Queens, are enormously out of their element in both small town northern Missouri where they first search for clues, and are appalled by the town’s version of pizza, and then all the more at the “Champions of Possibility” and the “Discerning Wolverine Ecovillage” communes, where a group of highly educated “woo-woo” loving millennials, are immersed in a world focused on sustainability and a rejection of conventional society, a world featuring compost toilets, sun ovens, oddly constructed houses, neo-pagan celebrations and rituals, and the periodic tolling of the “Bell of Mindfulness.”

The Cupellis decide to rent a cabin at the Discerning Wolverine, and immerse themselves in the daily work of the community in hopes of finding some clue to Veronica’s fate. This plan upsets Jonas Lundquist, a part-time member of the Wolverine community and a chemistry professor at the local university, who insists that Veronica left the Wolverine alive and well. A woman from the nearby Champions of Possibility commune, Angela Tramontana, seems attracted to Mike, but also anxious to get the brothers to give up their search. With the help of two other women from the Discerning Wolverine, Tillie and Starr, the brothers locate a tremendous field of Datura, otherwise known as “moonflower,” and later an ambitious plot to cultivate and mass distribute the unregulated, highly hallucinogenic, and toxic plant, which they discover Lundquist has been studying in search of a way to make it less dangerous to use.

While most of their suspicions center on Lundquist it becomes less certain whether he is the mastermind or an unwitting participant in a major new illegal drug scheme. The deeper the Cupelli Brothers probe into the secrets of the Discerning Wolverine, the more they recognize that to find Veronica Teuma and save her, and themselves as well, they will have to figure out which if any of the members of the two intentional communities they can actually trust with their lives.

Kiss of the Moonflower is now available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other online retailers.

Kiss of the Moonflower published by Black Opal Books,
Oct 2020.