Dead Drop

Handler Book 2

M. P. Woodward

Berkley Pub

May 23rd, 2023

Dead Drop by M. P. Woodward will remind readers of the spy thrillers of the past. Woodward, a veteran of US Intelligence, brings his knowledge into the plot, making realistic and believable scenarios and characters. This is the second novel in the series featuring Meredith Morris-Dale, a CIA case officer and John Dale, Meredith’s ex-husband, and a retired CIA case officer.

“Meredith is a CIA officer in the National Clandestine office.  At the end of the day, she needs to validate the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) sources that say Iran is developing a nuclear missile. The operation in this story shows how the Israeli Intelligence Agency, Mossad, can make mistakes. Within Mossad Caesarea is the actual operations unit, the equivalent of the clandestine service in the CIA. As the story unfolds there is a conflict between the CIA and Mossad on how to approach the Iranian nuclear problem.  In each of the intelligence services they have dedicated professionals that are competing for information.”

As with the current Biden administration the newly elected President wants to revise the Iranian nuclear deal. Israel is vehemently opposed to the negotiations because they believe the intel of Mossad, a new nuclear-capable missile is being developed by Hezbollah, Iran’s proxy in Lebanon.  Knowing they cannot sit idly by, Werner Davidai, the Chief of Mossad’s Caesarea operations, decides to conduct aggressive and visible operations to eliminate the existential threat. He does not care that this will pit the CIA versus Mossad and does not consider the international blowback and condemnation. It is as if each spy makes intricate chess moves to achieve a successful outcome. 

“Werner is obsessed and sees his duty to maintain the survival of Israel from a nuclear Iran. Now he is afraid Iran could arm Hezbollah, creating basically an existential threat.  He is very aggressive and kills innocents to take out one bad scientist. He tries to manipulate those in the CIA because he is not happy with the information he is getting, risking the alliance between the US and Israel.  There is a famous Talmudic expression, “rise and kill first.” He sees this as a question of prevention. Werner very much represents this point of view, the more militant side.”

But there is a piece on the chess board that makes each move complicated, Lt. Col. Kasem Kahlidi, the former chief arms importer for the Iranian regime and current asset of the CIA, knows more about the program but refuses to talk unless his girlfriend is brought to the US. After a failed attempt by the Mossad team to snatch Kahlidi, he escapes.  Now John, the Iranians, and the Israelis are all trying to find him. Meanwhile Meredith has an intricate plan to fix everything, even though she is putting her life on the line. 

“I try to highlight something that is a real danger and present the various perspectives of it. Most Americans do not wake up and think of the terror force, Hezbollah, but Israelis do. This organization is responsible for all kinds of mayhem including blowing up the US Marines barracks in Lebanon and kidnaping/killing a CIA officer. They are absolute clients of Iran, a state within a state.  They have the largest terrorist army in the world, right on the Northern Israeli border.  The Israeli military is very worried about Hezbollah, which has missile factories in Southern Beirut.”

There are lots of twists and turns within the storyline.  Lines are blurred between each party who sees themselves as the righteous one, while others see their actions as unjustifiable. This is a breath of fresh air among spy thrillers since Woodward has a female operative taking the lead.



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About the Author

Elise Cooper

Elise writes book reviews that always include a short author interview.