Again Settle details the topography and sense of place--here an ancient town on the Turkish seacoast--in a floodtide of billowing verbiage on the crest of which undulate odds and ends of characters and pseudo-philosophic inquiry. Into the pure-blue sea town of Ceramos have come a handful of strangers, including Ariadne, American, middle-aged, divorced, and the only one, with the exception of Jewish bar owner David, who has sought friendship with the natives. The others have been rooting around, as foreigners Will, for what they can take away: a German archaeologist, eager to dig for what is not his; a rich teenage girl whose erotic experiment brings a modern tourist hotel to pollute souls and waters; an unhappily married pair involved in violent murder and (via a dessicated homosexual professor) suicide; and a US State Dept. careerman--the unwilling instrument of Progress in Ceramos. This skillful author has interlaced the deadly mischances that arise when questing, acquisitive outsiders mix uneasily with a pristine culture. However, although her sluice of words occasionally finds an appropriate outlet (there's a dazzling section concerning an underground cave), she often strains too far for comfort--or comprehension: ""Her nerves, revolted by the demands of her illusions, banked up to crisis, and then painfully shed the load of falseness."" Ah well, if you are willing to slog through the dense underbrush and some muddy moods, there's an ambitious cross-cultural cautionary tale--and some splendid scenery.