If this book had been made into a movie, it would've been one of those not-quite-classic-but-still-really-fun Hitchcock movies. It might've starred Jimmy Stewart, but perhaps someone a little more rugged and bad-ass (although, Anthony Mann was able to make Stewart frighteningly bad-ass and rugged, but that's neither here nor there), and like the book it would've started on the Orient Express with a hero who slowly realizes that he has the passport of a recently murdered man. That's one hell of a setup.
In the end, this post-war thriller (but not actually by this Robert B. Parker, by another one) is a fun, movie-like romp with a few weak spots (the romance is a little flat, the villains aren't always great) but by an author who clearly knew his shit. This is a man who knew how to cross borders illegally, and knew Budapest like the back of his hand. A lot of the details really make this book. It's fast-moving, paranoid, and exciting with some goofily quirky spies and a beleaguered hero who really doesn't want any part of the three-way intrigue going on. If someone running through Budapest from ex-Nazis, Russians, and weird Americans, all culminating in a shootout in a cemetary sounds fun, you'll probably like this one.
Still, the most fascinating part about this book is probably Parker himself (again, not this
Robert B. Parker). There's an afterword by his daughter, that paints the actual man, a daring wartime journalist who was present at just about every major invasion in WWII, as a more interesting version of the protagonist of his book. Passport To Peril is a lot of fun, but a book about Parker would've been even more fascinating. Still, it's a fun read that's got a kind of tip-of-the-iceberg thing regarding its author.