Review: Once Wicked Always Dead, by T. Marie Benchley

Once Wicked Always Dead
Once Wicked Always Dead
T. Marie Benchley
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Summary (from;
Molly Madison is unaware of the Sociopath who is on the loose, creating havoc with a sense of their own justice. Her life is shattered by the sudden death of her beloved parents and the revelation of her husband Phillip’s affair – with another man – Molly leaves the life of Country Clubs and the luxury of city life in Florida and heads west to Montana, resolved to run the family ranch, and to move on with her life. Her attraction to Clayton Leatherbe, the ranch foreman, is instant, but before a romance can blossom, the ranch falls prey to sabotage by wealthy land developers determined to drive Molly out, and Clayton learns of a family secret and collides with the Sociopath that could put the ranch – and Molly’s life – in jeopardy.

A sharp mystery that swirls with family secrets, betrayal, love and loss, Once Wicked Always Dead is a strong debut from an author with literary blood in her veins.

I love a mystery, and have been devouring them lately, so when I was offered a copy of T. Marie Benchley’s debut novel, Once Wicked Always Dead, I jumped at the chance.

Let me just say, if there’s anyone who needs to consider buying affordable health insurance, it’s Molly Madison: first her parents die tragically, then her husband’s lover/assistant outs him, and then she has to deal with the pressure of going back to Montana after a less-than-happy life in Florida. Oh, and then there’s that pesky sociopath who spends most of the book murdering men before we actually meet her. It’s enough to make anyone sick.

From any other author, this collection of events would be preposterous, but Benchley manages to weave it all together into a mystery/thriller that also does equal time as a romance novel. While Molly frustrated me at times, I know that there are women like her in the world, who let their husband’s dreams obscure their own. I alternately disliked and pitied Molly’s husband Phillip – hiding your sexuality for so long would twist a person – and loved Clayton Leatherbe, the ranch foreman/manager.

Benchley’s book could easily have been dumbed down and labeled with a Harlequin symbol, but instead, she made the romantic elements take a backseat to the mystery/thriller part of the story, which results in a gripping story, and a fast, entertaining read.

If you love a mystery, you’ll love Once Wicked Always Dead.

Goes well with a perfectly grilled steak and a bottle of wine (I like syrah, but your mileage may vary).