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.

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.

It’s been a while but the time to shine a light on books that may have been missed is back. And this time we have three books. Just because.

The first two suggestions come from Carys Jones. Her latest novel, We Are All Liars, was published by Orion on 9 December 2021.

The first book she has chosen is The Van Apfel Girls Are Gone by Felicity McLean, published by Point Blank Books on 4 June 2020.

We lost all three girls that summer. Let them slip away like the words of some half-remembered song and when one came back, she wasn’t the one we were trying to recall to begin with.

Tikka Molloy was eleven and one-sixth years old during the summer of 1992. That summer, the hottest on record, the Van Apfel sisters – Hannah, the beautiful Cordelia and Ruth – mysteriously disappeared.  Did they run away? Or were they taken?  The mystery of their disappearance has never been solved.

Now, years later, Tikka has returned home and is beginning to piece together what really happened. The summer that shaped her.  The girls she couldn’t forget.

Here’s what she had to say:

“Whenever I get the chance I like to rave about The Van Apfel Girls Are Gone by Felicity McLean. Such a gripping book where the location, Australia, is so vividly described it becomes a character itself. I was lost in this story, in both the mystery and nostalgia of it. I can’t recommend it enough.”

Her second choice is The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel, published  by Hodder and Stoughton on 9 March 2017.


The Roanoke girls seem to have it all. But there’s a dark truth about them which is never spoken. Every girl either runs away, or dies.

Lane is one of the lucky ones. When she was fifteen, over one long, hot summer at her grandparents’ estate in rural Kansas, she found out what it really means to be a Roanoke girl. Lane ran, far and fast. Until eleven years later, when her cousin Allegra goes missing – and Lane has no choice but to go back.

She is a Roanoke girl.

Is she strong enough to escape a second time?

Here’s what she had to say:

“And I’m going to be cheeky and throw in another book – The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel. Amazing. Another story where I genuinely felt like I’d visited the small town it was set in. Dark, disturbing in parts but with a love story I couldn’t get enough of. So good!”

You can read my review of The Roanoke Girls here.

The third choice today comes from Nell Pattison. Her latest novel, Hide, was published by Avon on 9 December 2021.

She chose City of Vengeance by D V Bishop, published by Pan Macmillan on 4 Februrary 2021.

Florence. Winter, 1536. A prominent Jewish moneylender is murdered in his home, a death with wide implications in a city powered by immense wealth.

Cesare Aldo, a former soldier and now an officer of the Renaissance city’s most feared criminal court, is given four days to solve the murder: catch the killer before the feast of Epiphany – or suffer the consequences.

During his investigations Aldo uncovers a plot to overthrow the volatile ruler of Florence, Alessandro de’ Medici. If the Duke falls, it will endanger the whole city. But a rival officer of the court is determined to expose details about Aldo’s private life that could lead to his ruin. Can Aldo stop the conspiracy before anyone else dies, or will his own secrets destroy him first?

Here’s what she had

“I read a lot of crime but I don’t tend to read much historical fiction, because it’s usually not for me, but I absolutely loved this book. Set in 16th Century Florence, it follows an officer called Cesare Aldo in his attempts to work against the corruption that’s rife in the city, in order to solve a murder. It’s tightly plotted with some brilliantly-penned characters, some of whom you’ll love to hate, and the second one in the series came out in March 2022.”

You can read my Q&A with D V Bishop here.

So there we have it, three books that may have passed you by. I’ve actually read one of them (a rare occurance) and have the other two on my TBR (not so rare, there are many, many books on there). Have you read any of them? Do you have a quiet novel you’d like to shout about? Do let me know.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. yvonnembee says:

    I loved The City of Vengenace and I have also read the next book, The Darkest Sin and now eagerly awaiting the next one which will be out next year.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. janetemson says:

      I need to read my copy. I love a good historical crime novel. Glad to hear you enjoyed them both 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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