As I was ringing up a Michael Palmer hardback the other day, my mind wandered onto the topic of "guilty pleasures". Of course, for some people, the entire genre of mystery is a "guilty pleasure", but as any devoted mystery fan knows, this is far from true. Some mysteries are challenging, thought provoking - in fact in almost any mystery there is usually something I find worthwhile, or something I can take away from the reading experience, Not always, but almost always. But then there is the other category, that of guilty pleasure, which I find to be the most idiosyncratic of all reading experiences.
I was recently reading Sarah Stewart Taylor's new blog (Gravestone Girl, check it out, we have a link to it here) and she claims that her sick bed reading is Oedipus. I can pretty safely say that she might be alone in that. If there are other readers out there who read Oedipus when they're sick, please chime in, I'd love to hear about it. HOWEVER for me a sick bed read would be a Michael Palmer book, my personal ultimate guilty pleasure.
Michael Palmer makes my guilty pleasure top of the chart because all his books have - comfortingly - exactly the same formula. However, it's such a terrifically page turning formula that I never mind reading it again in a different guise. Here's his basic plot: idealistic young (or not so young, maybe just damaged in some way) intern joins the staff of a new hospital/clinic where he/she is initially delighted to be, but then discovers that there's something wrong - very wrong! - about the status quo. Sadly, he/she is a lowly intern/new staff member & the status quo is controlled by the higher ups. Take my word for it, it's just about impossible to put down, and for the true Palmer-phile, there's a new one out, THE FIFITH VIAL. You can even re-read them, since, as I've stated before, they are all kind of the same.
But for every customer or reader, there's a different guilty pleasure. Diane Mott Davidson is another one I cop to a bit more freely - her books are all kind of the same, though her characters evolve, but the setting is familiar territory after however many books she's written now. We had a woman in recently who had gotten rid of all her books because she could only read John Lescroat. She feverishly pawed through the shelves and thankfully was able to find some new (to her) titles. My husband's guilty pleasure is any "trashy" true crime. I asked him if he excepted Ann Rule, and he said "even Ann Rule has her trashiness". His thirst is apparently to know all he can about society's dysfunctional underbelly.
And now, if you'll excuse me, I think I'll go into the store and see if there are any Michael Palmer titles I may have missed...