I must first confess that, before I could start this book review, I had to get  some detergent, a scrubby, and some really serious elbow grease to clean the area of the kitchen table where I’m writing this. That became clear to me when the book I just finished was stuck to the table.

But it’s clean now. And yes, most of my books are read on a Fire Kindle reader, but once in a while I’ll find one of the paper ones, hence cleaning.

It is irrelevant that there is a quarantine effort going on. I read a lot. I read quickly. I discard stuff a lot. If the author cannot get me into the deal within the first chapter, I’m gone. There are too many good books out there for me to squander my life waiting for them to get to the point. Here are some of those good books and their authors. For every one of these, I’ve likely started and discarded two or more.

When it comes to mysteries, a lot of people say: “Oh, you have to read Agatha Christy,” but when I do, it seems that she is more interested in making her books twice or three times as long as is necessary. “Murder on the Orient Express” could not have happened, because as long as it took her to find the killer, that train could have circled the globe five or six times. Nope. My motto is: Set up a good murder, get the show on the road, and find the killer. If it’s that kind of book.

I have read everything I could find by Charles Todd as he covers Britain just before and just after World War One, using as his chief character one Ian Rutledge, who was a police officer before the war. He went into the war, suffered through it, and went back to his job after. He carries the effects of that war, both mentally and physically, with him, and all of it gives some insight to Britain during and after the war.

The author here gives the reader some great looks into the history of that era, and the misery. I read them all. I would still be reading them, if there were any more to be had.

I just finished “Queen’s Gambit,” which has been made into a series on Amazon Prime. It involves a very young girl orphaned at an early age and sent to an orphanage, where it develops that she has an extraordinary ability to play chess. The orphanage is run by icky people; chess it seems is often at higher levels played by weird people; her experiences are unusual to the point of abusive. She is a girl and she beats men. All in all, reading  this is a better experience than watchin the tv version, which I wouldn’t finish. If you have any experience with chess, or not, this is great stuff.

Along the way, I stumble occasionally into a science fiction that makes it into orbit for me. Becky Chambers drew me in on just the title: “The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet.” What a great title. What a great read. What a great imagination. Great characters. Great novel situations. Great development of everything involved. I’ve read two more of hers, and they all make me throw the book down as I near the end, already sorry that it has to end.

Jo Nesbo is a Scandinavian author whose books stand up to translation very nicely, and the translation gives them a unique flavor. His characters are somewhat tortured police people who find and solve mysteries, while remaining somewhat tortured mysteries themselves. I think it’s the fact that winters are so long and dreary over there, and there’s so much snow. Or something. Great reads.

Paulette Giles’ book “News of the World,” which you may have heard about because Tom Hanks is starring in the movie version as we speak, is another book that tortured me all during the last half, knowing it had to end sometime, and I didn’t want it to. This book takes place just after the Civil War, when being on the road on horseback or horse-and-buggy was dangerous. An aging veteran of that war accepts the burden of returning a 10-year-old girl who was captured by the Kiowa Indians back to her family, clear across the wild west. Across raging rivers, through Indian country, fighting off bad guys, dealing with the emotional damage of the girl–all just a wonderful, wonderful tale. It’s as I said just a crying shame that Texas wasn’t a few more bad guys and wild rivers  further away.

I can always tell I’m into a great read when halfway through I’m already sad that it has to end.