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Publisher's Summary

One of Kirkus Reviews "Top 100" Indie Books of 2013
A beautiful graduate student suspects that her psychiatrist is ruled by the fantasies of a poet who's been dead for 200 years....
A mental patient with no musical training sits down at the piano and plays a fiendishly difficult piece of classical music....
A young doctor's life spins out of control as he falls under the spell of three irresistible women....
Art and illusion. Deception and delusion. Sex, evil and death.
©2013 Bruce Hartman (P)2016 Bruce Hartman
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Critic Reviews

"A mind-bending marriage of ambitious literary theory and classic murder mystery...In this intricately plotted novel, Hartman spins the familiar trappings of gothic mystery together with a fresh postmodern sensibility, producing a story that's as rich and satisfying as it is difficult to categorize.... As Hartman skillfully blurs the lines between fiction and reality, the book becomes a profound meditation on art, identity and their messy spheres of influence...An exciting, original take on the literary mystery genre." (Kirkus Reviews)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By Donnie Burgess on 04-03-16

An engrossing mystery!

Any additional comments?

Dubin, an unscrupulous detective-turned-blackmailer, finds himself outside the Palmer Institute in northern New York. He’s investigating the apparent suicide of Maria Morgan, a local opera singer and the wife of a wealthy landowner, some seven years ago. His motive isn’t necessarily to find the truth.

Ned Hoffman, a psychiatrist who is new to the institute, is charged with the care of Hunter and Antonia Morgan, twin siblings and progeny of Maria and Avery Morgan. He’s concerned that the treatment they are receiving may not be in their best interest.

Each begins to question the same series of events from seven years before, trying to determine what really happened to Maria, and why Hunter and Antonia are in the institute. They soon learn that there’s more to Maria’s suicide and her children’s descent into madness than meets the eye.


In The Rules of Dreaming, Hartman uses a diverse cast of characters to tell a chilling tale of power, corruption, greed, and consequences. Each character is so well defined that it is often difficult to tell whose narrative is the most important to the story. Hartman’s seamless blend of first and third person narration keeps the mystery at the fore, while always leaving more questions than answers. From the first page to the last, I found myself reading at a frenzied pace to unravel the mystery. The moment I reached the words ‘the end’, I immediately wanted to read it again to look for hidden clues. The Rules of Dreaming is unquestionably the most engrossing mystery story I’ve read in years!

Neal Arango’s narration of the story is wonderful. Each character has a unique voice which makes the task of keeping track of a dozen or more characters a bit easier.

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3 of 3 people found this review helpful


By Reg on 05-17-16

What a Ride!

You don't what's what or who's who in this listen! Could Dubin be someone other than who he says he is? Is Nicole really crazy?? Whose daughter is Olympia, anyway? Was Maria murdered or was it suicide? Are Hofmann and Bratolli crazy or brilliant and about to cure Hunter and Antonia? Are Hunter and Antonia as crazy as they appear?

Maria commits suicide while rehearsing to perform the opera of the Tales of Hofmann. This sets the stage for a real life drama acting out the opera seven years later. The setting is a mental hospital where her two children have been placed after her death. They are schizophrenics who have every appearance of living in their own world. The real and surreal are so deftly painted that you really don't know what happened to who and who anybody really is until the very end! I did guess what happened and by whom about an hour from the end of the listen but I wasn't entirely sure I was right until the last scene unfolded.

Neal Arango does a great job with the narration and brings the story to life.

I received this audiobook from Audiobook Boom! in exchange for an honest review.

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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