THE PASSENGER starts out pretty dramatically with a frantic father who thinks his son might have been on the plane - blown up over a small town, all passengers on board dead. When Collard learns that his son Nick may not have been on board after all, confusion gives way to confrontation as Collard starts to learn what Nick has gotten himself involved in. That soon moves to suspicion that there's more to the story of Nick, the blown up plane, the drug dealers, the spies, the security services and all.
Right from the start THE PASSENGER throws the reader into a slight sense of confusion. The plane has crashed - Collard is in London / at Heathrow / at the scene of the crash / sneaking under police tape to search amongst the passengers and their affects for his son. How did he get there? Where was this crash supposed to have been in relation to Heathrow - is it supposed to be the Lockerbie air disaster. No idea. From there on I spent the rest of the book in a vague haze of confusion.
After the initial stages of frantically searching for Nick; being heavied by some security guys from somewhere; and then settling into the hunt for his son, Collard pretty well stays focused on finding out if Nick is alive - where he is - and what he could possibly have got himself mixed up in. The book, then, after the initial flurry of activity, starts alternating chapters between Collard in the present and the search; and Angleton - CIA renegade spy, friend and colleague of Philby - but sometime in the past. There is some sort of connection between what Nick is doing now and what Angleton did then. But at this point the fog of confusion became a pea-souper and I was terminally lost.
Being terminally lost in the plot with absolutely no idea of what was going on and why, was not only disconcerting, it was frustrating as Collard is a very likeable and engaging character and you really want to know what was going on with him. Angleton was a character that you could be interested in as well - but for some reason - the two story lines just seemed to get further and further apart and more and more confusing. That is, until they needed to be dragged into some sort of control and sort of "explained" everything away in the final part of the book.
Oddly enough, in a strange way the book was readable - probably because of Collard, and even Angleton - although his story is a backwards look at his life. It was just profoundly confusing and whilst the ending - and having the elements explained - at least cleared the fog - it didn't compensate for the overall journey.