Try using the save a copy as... | Clone option and see if you get different results.
I've already tried that, as indicated in my original post: "I've tried saving compacted, cloned, and recovered copies..."
Not sure where your post went (I saw your e-mail requesting what's reported if I recover the file), but here are the results:
28236K Bytes were salvaged.
0 whole records were skipped.
0 field values were skipped.
0 lost field definitions were rebuilt.
FYI - original file size was 28,224 kB, so the recover actually increased the file size by 12 kB.
Just wanted to say that I figured it out.
It turns out that the database GUI had a company logo that was a huge 3000x1280 bitmap. It was "shrunk" down in the GUI so I would never have guessed it to be so big. Anyway, I removed it and inserted a 4 kB .jpg file instead, and voila, the database compacted down to under 100 kB.