Fifth and most deft of Gardner's continuations of the James Bond series, though not to be compared with Gardner's far richer The Secret Generations, published last year between Bonds. The gimmick here is farily inspired: instead of an A. bomb or the federal treasury being hijacked, this Bond starts right out with a headhunt--for James' head. The "truly sinister" Tamil Rahani, inheritor of Ernst Stavro Blofeld's evil empire and last seen falling from an airship into Lake Geneva (in Role of Honor), has survived with a twisted spine but come down with a terminal case of spinal cancer that will end his life in four months. Before he goes, though, he wants the head of James Bond served to him on a silver charger. For this he invents a blood sport: whoever among SPECTRE, SMERSH, the Red Brigade, Puerto Rico's FALN, various Mafia families or the Union Corse brings Rahani Bond's head wins himself ten million Swiss francs. Suddenly Bond's housekeeper May and Miss Moneypenny are kidnapped, with a swap being offered by a nameless villain: Bond for the two women. Bond finds himself involved with two other women in his pursuit of the abductors: Principessa Sukie Tempesta, a multimillionairess, and her multifariously deadly bodyguard, beautiful "Nannie" Norrich. Gardner weaves swift, outrageous coincidences into a preposterous plot that is quite fun to follow as it hops from the Tyrolean Alps to Salzburg to Key West. All in all, Gardner avoids some of the giganticism of the Bond flicks but certain climactic clichÃ‰s--granted Bond's megalomaniacal villains--by now seem unavoidable, Even so, one dismisses the cliches for the amusement.