In an unexceptional season, many will be pleased to happen on a glistening, threatening entertainment -- it's no more than that -- set in Biarritz where Max Feininger, the fourth richest man in the world -- never seen but always heard on the telephone as he accumulates further wealth around the world -- maintains a household of dependents in a Second Empire showplace. On allowances and gilded leashes. A wife, her besotted brother, his disfigured one, three children and an occasional ""brilliant kid"" on a large fellowship grant. Henry Hart, a marine biologist with a new lead on the life process, is #495 en route to the parasitic destruction of his predecessors. His first intimation of disaster is on arrival when son Elliot almost kills Hart and his own family. But Elliot proves to be interested, interesting, as well as charming and disaster-prone, and his derelictions involve Hart in many unanticipated and almost fatal sorties -- on a boat, in the jungle of Guatemala where Elliot discovers some nickel mines, and back to the final contest between father and son which Elliot finally wins only by dying by choice. . . . Lieberman's first novel of vulnerability, compromise and corruption reads with all the elegant high-handedness and expectancy of its givens -- enjoy it for what it so momentarily is.