Actor-sleuth Charles Paris, after slightly disappointing excursions into TV and radio, is back in the theater--and back in top form. This time it's a brand-new play in the provinces, with Charles (usually a small-role sort at best) playing the second lead. But then the show acquires a London producer, and both Charles and unstable lead player Alex Household are demoted to understudies--while ""name"" actors take over. Charles is crestfallen. Alex is furious--especially when aging star Michael Banks can't learn his lines. (Alex is asked to feed Banks the words through a hearing-aid prompter system.) So, when Banks is shot onstage during the opening-night performance, with Alex fleeing, the case seems open-and-shut. Charles, however, who now finds himself playing the lead (!!), also finds himself playing sleuth again--tracking down the fugitive Alex and sizing up an assortment of alternate suspects. A decent little plot (with one neat twist)--but it's raised to a whole other level by the effortlessly authentic backstage atmosphere . . . and by Charles himself, who's more appealing than ever here: re-wooing wife Frances, peering at dubious grandchildren, and basking in unlikely (brief) stardom. In short: another Brett winner--one of his best.