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Showering April with mysteries, thrills

A mysterious spring that has the ability to heal and to give you what you wish for — but at a price — is at the heart of a chilling ghost story in “The Drowning Kind” by Jennifer McMahon.

Jax has distanced herself a bit from her mentally ill sister and doesn’t pick up the phone for one of her manic calls. But it turns out to be the last call from Lexie as she drowns in the pool at their grandmother’s estate that Lexie inherited. Called home to attend her sister’s funeral, Lexie finds the estate in disarray and the remains of a project Lexie had been doing — researching the history of the estate and their family. And some strange claims that there is something in the seemingly bottomless pool. Was it her mental illness talking or something more? As Jax’s aunt and father turn up and remind her how far away she had pushed her sister in the last year, Lexie learns more about her sister’s last days — and about the family and the strange pool. Meanwhile, in the past, a desperate woman visits a hotel with a spring reported to help the sick and maybe even grant wishes. And all she wants is a baby. But nothing bad can come from a wish like that….

A dark and spooky tale of family, being careful what you wish for and consequences, the story is moody and atmospheric, a bit of “A Cure for Wellness” mixed with “The Haunting of Bly Manor.” It would make a great movie!

“The Drowning Kind” is published by Gallery Press.

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A young woman finds herself surrounded by monsters in the thriller “Near the Bone” by Christina Henry.

Mattie has only known abuse from her husband, William, and wishes she could get away from him, but he keeps her in a cabin in the middle of the woods and fearful to ever try to escape. She has a dim memory of a mother and a sister, but he tells her the only life she has lead is with him. One day when checking on a game trap she sees a dead animal, and it looks like it has been killed by something she’s never seen before. William at first dismisses her concerns, but soon they find that there is indeed some sort of creature in the forest…watching. When Mattie stumbles upon two young men and one woman her own age, she only wants to protect them from the monster in the woods, and the monster in her cabin as well, for William will be angry if strangers are around. Tension grows as they are all being hunted.

This is a cool creepy cryptid story that also mixes with real human monsters as well, as Mattie’s past is revealed throughout. And the danger is certainly real, and drawn out in horrifying detail. This would make a great scary Netflix show!

“Near the Bone” is published by Berkley.

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Into the domestic noir category comes a story of friendship ruined by money in “Just My Luck” by Adele Parks.

Friends for years, Lexi and Jake have been playing the lottery with their friends, couples the Pearsons and the Heathcotes. But when a falling out happens, Lexi and Jake strike it rich on the lottery and now their friends want their cut too, after all, they had been playing those numbers together for many years. Why shouldn’t they get their share? As Lexi, Jake and their kids come to grips with winning that much money, their family dynamic begins to crack and their personalities begin to change. Is money going to ruin not only their friendships but their family as well?

With a bunch of nasty characters and someone wanting to do right, this a story that makes you think about how quickly people can change, especially over money.

“Just My Luck is published by Harlequin.

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A woman must question what is the truth in her family in “Last One Home” by Victoria Helen Stone.

Long ago, Lauren was reunited with her father and grandmother after her mother’s testimony sent her father to prison for murder. A serial killer then confessed to the murder, and Lauren went back to her father and grandmother, cutting her mother out of her life. Now, Lauren’s grandmother is going into assisted living and is selling Lauren the family home. And Lauren is ready to put down roots there.

Meanwhile, Donna, Lauren’s mother, has tried to contact her again. Learning that her daughter has gone back to the family home, she tries to tell her that she has made a terrible mistake. Who is telling the truth? And will Lauren learn the absolute truth behind the murder and what really happened?

Told in alternating points of view between Lauren and Donna, the story gives just enough detail each chapter to keep the reader interested and intrigued about where it is going to go next. The ending was a big surprise for me. Family secrets will never be looked at the same.

“Last One Home” is published by Lake Union Publishing.

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Sisters will do anything for each other, right? That thought is tested in “The Good Sister” by Sally Hepworth.

Rose is the responsible sister with a home and a husband who is just missing one thing — a baby. It seems she cannot have one. Fern is used to being considered the “bad” sister — the extremely introverted sister who doesn’t do social interaction beyond what little she must in her job as a librarian and who has secrets from her childhood she’d rather not think about. She decides there is something she can do for Rose — have a baby and give it to her. She sets her sites on a library patron as a means to an end, but soon starts to have an actual relationship. Meanwhile, the twins’ mother’s declining health is finally taking its toll, but does she know her girls better than they know each other?

There are plenty of twists here, and differing points-of-view that will make you question everything. The end result is satisfying and it’s a decent thriller.

“The Good Sister” is published by St. Martin’s Press.

Contact Amy Phelps at aphelps@newsandsentinel.com.

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