Yorkshire Chief Inspector Alan Banks's eighth case (Final Account, 1995, etc.) is a particularly sad affair: the strangling of Deborah Harrison, a choirgirl who liked chess and horses, in St. Mary's cemetery. There's not far to look for suspects: Daniel Charters, the vicar of St. Mary's, is reeling under the accusations of sexual advances by the Croatian sexton he dismissed; the sexton himself acts furtive and defensive; and Deborah's ex-boyfriend, John Spinks, is a lowlife who seems to have a problem with rules of any sort. But under the gun of the new Chief Constable, an old friend of Deborah's titled father, Banks and his men zero in on English teacher Owen Pierce, and Pierce--whose flamboyant liaison with adventurous model Michelle Chappel seems to have been an undress rehearsal for the role of crazed sex killer--endures the agonies of interrogation, arrest, arraignment, and trial before a jury narrowly frees him to return to his shattered life, his lynch- minded neighbors, and suspicion of having committed a second murder with all the earmarks of the first. The whole plot would seem deeply old-fashioned if the characters, from go-getting Inspector Barry Stott to the vicar's embattled wife, didn't keep pulsing and seething with startling life. A standout performance from one of the last and finest masters of the understated British procedural, with plenty of passion to understate.