M.P. Woodward
June 13, 2023

M.P. Woodward is a veteran of both US intelligence ops and the entertainment industry.  As a naval intelligence officer with the US Pacific Command, he scripted scenario moves and countermoves for US war game exercises in the Middle East. In multiple deployments to the Persian Gulf and Far East, he worked alongside US Special Forces, CIA, and NSA. Most recently, Woodward ran international partner distribution for Amazon Prime and Prime Video. 

Interview by Elise Cooper

Q How much more relevant is Dead Drop, now that we’ve learned Iran is developing a hypersonic nuclear weapon?

  1. P.: I did hear about it. When I was writing this book, I did not see that exactly.  The story of the book does have Iran modifying a service to air missile to become a hypersonic weapon. I did anticipate that about now Iran would have nuclear capability.  They have reached the point they can enrich uranium when they want. It is easy to imagine a world where Israel would want to reduce that threat. The great worry is that Iran will be able to add a nuclear warhead to a missile.


Q How did your professional experience help you write this story?

M.P.:  When I was an intelligence officer one of my duties was to create war games in the US Pacific command. I would have to come up with scenarios for our armed forces that would be a real challenge exercise.


Dead Drop is, in part, a story of Mossad versus the CIA. What can you tell us about that?

M.P.:  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.


Q Has Meredith grown in this book?

M.P.:  She is a force, a good listener, feisty, tough and a warrior, who is strong and resourceful. She puts her career so far forward that she shortchanges herself. She needs to see that a supportive personal life can help her professionally. She thinks she can go it alone and needs to understand she needs a support system.


Q How about John Dale?

M.P.:  He sacrifices for honor, duty, and is courageous. When readers first meet him in the previous book, The Handler, he is in hibernation mode.  In this book, he is much more prepared to be out of his shell and wants to be involved. He is less of a hermit.


Q Meredith is always saying John is her ex-husband.  What is happening with their relationship?

M.P.:  The first book had them realizing they were dependent on each other to complete the mission.  In the beginning of this book, she wants to rekindle an intimate relationship, but her jealousy gets in the way. The conflict in their relationship is the difference in their personalities.  There is a blur between the secrets that sometimes are professional and sometimes personal. This erodes the trust and understanding between them. They have new frustrations and angers. Yet, they have a shorthand and code for communicating with one another even though they are divorced.


Q  Is there a word of warning about a nuclear Iran?

M.P.: 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.


Q How would you describe Werner, Chief of Mossad’s Caesarea operations?

M.P.:  He 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.


Q What’s your next book?

M.P.:  There is a third book that will be published in May 2023, titled Fade to Black. It has the same universe of characters, but the setting is with China. Meredith and John are not working together and are not communicating in the beginning.  They will be going after the Chinese. The third book is more about John, while this book was more about Meredith.

Review by Elise Cooper

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.

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.

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.

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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