The Purchase by Linda Spalding (Sandstone Press, £8.99)
In Spalding's superb, superior historical-literary novel, the "purchase" is that of a slave boy by a Quaker widower, Daniel Dickinson, in 1780s Virginia. With five children to care for, and a hasty marriage to a young servant, Daniel's conflict between religion and his needs is played out against an intriguing, yet moving, tale of murder.
Leonardo And The Last Supper by Ross King (Bloomsbury, £9.99)
Forget Dan Brown's reading of the painting - King shows expertly how perspective and patronage shaped one of the most famous paintings in the world, with faces copied from rich cardinals and an acknowledgement of precedent, with all the "last Suppers" that had been depicted in the years before. He also describes well the politically dangerous times.
Her Privates We by Frederic Manning (Serpent's Tail, £8.99)
William Boyd's 1999 introduction to this re-issue of Manning's 1929 tale says there are "no novels that come out of the Great War with a similar status", forgetting perhaps about Ford Madox Ford's Parade's End. Manning's autobiographical novel may be a more visceral affair, but it's also psychologically focused and highly compelling in its directness.
Nancy: The Story Of Lady Astor by Adrian Fort (Vintage, £9.99)
Nancy Astor's reputation needed some rescuing, given more recent focus on her flirtation with dictators before the war, as part of the "Cliveden set" whose loyalty was regarded as dubious. But Fort returns us to the spirited if sometimes misguided Virginian-born woman who married one of the richest men in the world and became the UK's first woman MP.