Atlanta reporter Kate Mulcay (Ah, Sweet Mystery, etc.) hurries to Ila, a barrier island off Florida's coast, in response to a call for help from Nora Noble, who, with husband Phil, lives there year- round. Kate and her late husband Benjy vacationed there, in a house they built themselves. Now, according to Nora, someone is out to decimate the tiny population. Two men, both ardent protectors of the island's pristine state, have died; a young woman visitor has disappeared; and Phil is in the hospital after a heart attack caused by someone aware of his phobic fear of snakes. Death and mayhem follow Kate's arrival as she struggles to find the driving force behind it all, aided by wily old-timer Ash, who sees all and says little. He's a sturdy support when she homes in on the fairly obvious villain and flies a plane, for the first time, to save the latest victim. Much coming and going in cars, boats, and planes; endless talk of dogs, cats, and more exotic animal life; mostly dull and chirpy characters--all make for a fussy, only mildly engrossing story. Add a plus for nature lovers.