One of the staples in my library is Jim Butcher's series The Dresden Files.
I won't say that this series is brain candy -- because the books are far better crafted than mere fluff -- but for me they are the mental equivalent of comfort food.
I've seen critics of Butcher's work lambaste him for being 'simplistic', but I have to wonder if they're reading the same books I am. Or if they remember that they're being paid to read books, not skim them.
Butcher paints incredibly detailed places, things, and events; weaves them together with a suspense plot and then adds a liberal dash of three-dimensional characters before giving the whole thing a quarter-turn widdershins.
He always has Good Guys; and he always has Bad Guys -- and most of the time you can't tell which ones are which -- but the Good Guys win in the end. Much like a Bogart movie. Which is probably explains a great deal of their attraction for me.
There are plenty of books out there which have some kind of point to make -- philosophical, creative, social, whatever -- books which aim to make the reader Think About Things. And I have read my fair share of them, and will continue to do so.
However, sometimes you just want the literary equivalent of a ginormous bowl of beef stew, with a thick slab of home-cooked bread on the side, and a Guinness.
Plus, who can resist such throw-away lines as:
"Maybe I'd been shut away in my lab too long, but Spenser never mentions that Mab has a great ass.
So I notice these things. So sue me."
Anyhoo, I was banging around the Internets, drifted by Butcher's homepage and noticed that there's a new Harry Dresden book coming out.
"Ah-hah!" thinks I. And then I read the tag-line:
"When Morgan shows up on Harry's doorstep, broken, bleeding, and begging for protection from the Wardens, Harry finds himself at odds with the White Council yet again.
To be released in hardcover from Roc publishing, April 2009."
Warden Morgan is one of those characters that you admire while simultaneously wanting nothing so much as to whack him across the back of the bonce with a lead sap, drag his unconscious body into a dark alley, and work him over with a rubber hose for a couple of weeks.
And I've got to wait until next year to see what happens.