Bad Dreams and Broken Hearts is a collection of related short stories by Misha Burnett. I’ve been a fan of Misha’s writing for a while, so I knew up front that I’d enjoy this. The stories all follow Erik Rugar, a detective who investigates magical crimes for the city government. I imagined the setting as 1930s/1940s America (as depicted in a Humphrey Bogart movie), but with magical elements thrown in.
I’ve decided not to comment on the collection story-by-story as I normally do, because I feel I might give too much away or alternatively be too vague, so instead I’ll try to give you the overall feel of the book.
Rugar typically gets called out on a case that would be a normal opening for a detective story: a burglary, missing person, murder, kidnapping, heist, etc.. From those beginnings, the collection alternates between two different types of stories. Every other story has the detective tracking down leads and hunting the perpetrator, but things get complicated because magic was used to commit the crime or cover tracks. The remaining stories lean more towards horror, where the initial crime unleashes something on the unsuspecting city. I’m not talking about doll with a little girl’s voice horror, or ghost behind you in the mirror horror. I’m talking about hide in the closet and point a shotgun at the door horror. I’m talking about wipe the city off the map horror.
If you think you’d enjoy urban fantasy detective tales set almost a century ago, or if you like detective stories bleeding over into horror, then I highly recommend this collection. If your tastes lean a bit more towards science fiction, then Misha will have a short story collection coming out via kickstarter called Endless Summer – Twelve Strange Tales of Mankind’s Future.