reviewed by Pam Guynn
Dead Drop by M.P. Woodward is an exhilarating and suspenseful spy novel featuring Meredith Morris-Dale, a CIA case officer and John Dale, Meredith’s ex-husband. This second book in the Handler series picks up two months after book one ended.
Nuclear negotiations between the United States and Iran are underway. There are several obstacles including the Iranian intelligence officer, Lieutenant Colonel Kasem Khalidi, whom the Central Intelligence Agency has in one of its safe houses. The Israeli intelligence agency is determined to eliminate any threat to their country. John and Meredith are caught in the middle.
Meredith is strong, resourceful, self-sufficient, and a well-respected leader. Readers get to see her character change and grow as events unfold. While she is the main character, multiple points of view are used effectively to give the perceptions of the other characters and their situations. Readers gradually gain knowledge of how each character connects to the story line and each other. This adds depth and complexity. Once again, there is a handy character list at the beginning of the book.
The premise of the story felt all too real to me, making it thought-provoking and believable. From the shocking prologue to the tension-filled middle to the action-filled conclusion, this story captivated me. The author has created an adrenaline-fueled work of spy fiction with plenty of action and thrills. This well-written novel has an absorbing plot that builds suspense and is memorable. It features deception, trust, deaths, political maneuvering, and espionage. Blending these with details of the political hierarchy within the CIA, Iran’s military structure, and Israel’s intelligence community makes for a spellbinding tale.
The author is an excellent storyteller who kept me on the edge of my seat and rapidly turning the pages. He balanced the suspense aspects of the novel against the intrigue and action scenes. There are plot twists that provide some startling moments in the story. The tradecraft felt authentic and this is likely due to the author’s intelligence background. The novel takes readers from Virginia to Israel to Lebanon. The world-building was improved in this novel versus book one. Everyone has agendas, but which ones succeed and which ones fail?
Overall, this book was intense, briskly paced, suspenseful, and a powerful page-turner. This novel should delight those readers that enjoy spy thrillers that have strong male and female characters, intense fight scenes, and an absorbing plot. If you are looking for action, drama, and tension, this book will provide it. A few threads could provide story lines for future novels. I’m looking forward to reading more by this author.
Berkley Publishing Group and M.P. Woodward provided a complimentary digital ARC of this novel via NetGalley. All opinions expressed in this review are my own. Publication date is currently set for May 23, 2023.
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