This short novel which might have been stronger if longer--since it is based on a given situation it assumes that the reader will accept both the characters and some rather exceptional circumstances on face value--deals with the obsessive love of Patrick Savage for a girl he sees, barely knows. Summarily, he abandons a wife and three children for Xenia, an actress with a childish charm, an untidy past, and ""crossed wires in her head."" She goes back to her native town on the island of Nikoli and he follows her, but is unable to land when the island is quarantined by an at first unidentified plague which is almost surely fatal and spreads, rabidly. Patrick jumps ship to attempt to retrieve his mermaid and.... While one would be hard put to find any larger Significance for Mr. Woods' plague, it is, in itself, catching and his story reads with inordinate case.