Under the Reader’s Radar – celebrating the quiet novel

There are thousands upon thousands of books published each year. Only a small percentage of those make it to the best-seller list. That doesn’t mean that the rest aren’t worthy of reading. It may be that they are written by self-published authors who don’t have the marketing knowledge or a small independent publisher who doesn’t have the marketing budget to spread the word. Even the larger publishing houses have a limited marketing and publicity budget so can’t promote all the novels they publish to an equal degree.

I’m part of a wonderful online community called Book Connectors where bloggers, reviewers and authors can discuss all things book related. During one of the threads there was mention of ‘quiet’ books, the ones that miss out on the big publicity push. It was agreed that it was such a shame that certain books weren’t as widely read, as the reading public were missing out on hidden gems. So that sparked a germ of an idea and I decided to do a series of posts highlight titles that myself and other bloggers and authors feel may have gone under the reader’s radar. (That was the working title for this series of posts and as inspiration hasn’t struck me with anything better, its the one I’m going with for now).

So in each post I’ll aim to highlight a couple of titles that may have been missed from your reading awareness. Hopefully you’ll discover a treat or two. And please do let me know if you have any books you’d like to suggest.

Today’s first suggestion is from Mason Cross. Mason is the author of the Carter Blake series and his latest novel The Time to Kill was published by Orion on 30 June 2016. Mason’s suggestion is A Kiss Before Dying by Ira Levin.


“Dorothy meets a handsome young man with an eye for her inheritance while she is in her sophomore year. They are to be married and her life will be blissful; but Dorothy is pregnant and her fiancé’s plans are ruined, for Dorothy would be disinherited if her father discovered the truth.

So the young man provides his bride to be with some pills that will solve the problem. Soon there will be no baby – and perhaps no Dorothy either…
A Kiss before Dying, Levin’s first novel, earned him the 1954 Edgar Award for Best First Novel and is regarded as a modern classic.”

(image and synopsis from Amazon and for the ebook edition published by Corsair)

Here’s what he has to say about it:

“He’s famous for Rosemary’s Baby and Stepford Wives, but this was his first novel. It’s just a great thriller, but one of the standout things is the innovative structure. He tells the first part of the book through the killer’s eyes, never revealing his name, and then flips the perspective so that you don’t know which of the characters he is.”

The next suggestion is from Aimee Alexander, author of The Accidental Life of Greg Millar. Her suggestion is Once by Morris Gleitzman, published by Puffin.


“Once by Morris Gleitzman is the story of a young Jewish boy who is determined to escape the orphanage he lives in to save his Jewish parents from the Nazis in the occupied Poland of the Second World War.

Everybody deserves to have something good in their life. At least Once.

Once I escaped from am orphanage to find Mum and Dad.

Once I saved a girl called Zelda from a burning house.

Once I made a Nazi with a toothache laugh.

My name is Felix. This is my story.

Once is the first in a series of children’s novels about Felix, a Jewish orphan caught in the middle of the Holocaust, from Australian author Morris Gleitzman – author of Bumface and Boy Overboard. The next books in the series Then, Now and After are also available from Puffin.”
Read more on the Puffin website.

Here’s what she had to say:

“Once, by Morris Gleitzman is wonderful. It’s the story of a boy leaving an orphanage in Nazi German to rescue his parents. Heartbreaking, real and beautifully told. Never got the acclaim of The Boy in The Striped Pyjamas. More than deserved to.”

So there we have it, two more books that had passed me by but which sound intriguing. Have you read either of them or have you discovered a quiet novel you want to shout about? Do let me know if you have.

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