Raymond Benson, . . Putnam, $23.95 (291pp) ISBN 978-0-399-14746-3

Bond. James Bond. Those words still propel the reader into a dangerous, glamorous world, a world where only Agent 007 can save the day—again and again and again. In this rehashing of the legend, Bond joins his aging friend Rene Mathis to observe a raid by French police on a ramshackle film studio in the Côte d'Azur owned by shady French film producer/director Leon Essinger. Tipped to the raid, the Union, a league of terrorists with laser-tattoo brands on their eyeballs, show up and wreak havoc until Bond foils them by igniting some handy petrol barrels. In the aftermath Mathis is suspended but hunts the Union on his own, following a trail of stolen super explosives to wealthy blind gambler Pierre Rodiac. He tracks Rodiac's yacht from the casinos of Monaco back to Corsica and a remote mansion fortress, and promptly disappears. Meanwhile, Bond meets and falls in love with Essinger's estranged wife, movie star/supermodel Tylyn Mignonne, as his search links Essinger to Rodiac and word of a major terrorist act in the works. His hunt for Mathis and the Union mastermind causes him to cross paths with the old Mafia Corse, Corsican witches, murderous stuntmen and a fiendish eye doctor who tortures Bond when the intrepid agent is captured. Bensen does Fleming credit; his Bond a worthy replica of the original. M (for some time now Ms. M) and Miss Moneypenny hold down the fort while Bond discards million-pound gadgets like used Kleenex to frustrate Major Boothroyd, who has replaced the inimitable Q now that the much loved actor who played Q in the Bond films has died—yet another sign that the Bond book/movie business has achieved true synergy. (June)