Sexual obsession, alienation, and ambition are coolly limned in Weller's elegant if emotionally reserved second novel (after The Garden of the Peacocks, 1996). Like Danny, its New York jazz-musician narrator, the story repeats in different keys variations on an obsessive love while adding fresh details of its history and eventual outcome. Taking a break in New Zealand after a concert tour, Danny meets Maja, a beautiful Polish exile visiting the country with her current lover. Maja, though described at length, seems more a plot prop, a three- note refrain on the questions of identity, love, and the truth, than a credible character. Even allowing for love's notorious power to blind, she simply doesn't come across as sufficiently alluring to cause a man to jettison much of his life for her--which Danny, who frames his story with their first and last meetings, will in fact do. One of those women who are always about to do something (a photography course, public relations), Maja has meanwhile lived with--and off--a series of lovers attracted by her sensual beauty. Danny is soon aware that he's one of many men in her life and that, like a musician, Maja often improvises when recalling her past. After their initial meeting, Danny flies back to New York; Maja visits him and he decides to emigrate to Amsterdam to be with her. After all, he thinks, a spell in Europe might also help his stagnating career. He's totally smitten, of course, but in Poland, spending Christmas with Maja and her family, Danny finds her growing more distant and realizes as he walks in the snow with her that to be ``her ex-lover was really the natural state of affairs, to be her present lover was the fluke, and could never last.'' In all, an ambitious novel about profound matters that never quite strikes the right note, despite some clever and often adroitly scored passages.