Murder by the Book

Season 1, Ep 3, Aired 9/15/71
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  • Episode Description
  • Ken Franklin is the untalented writer but skilled PR agent of a mystery book writing team that created detective Mrs. Melville. He kills his partner and the real writer, Jim Ferris, because Ferris is planning on breaking up the team and writing on his own. Franklin uses an elaborate scheme to make it appear as if Ferris were killed by mobsters because his next story, an expose on the Mafia, would incriminate them. Franklin's plan is perfect except that a fan of Mrs. Melville, Lilly La Sanka, saw him.moreless

  • Cast & Crew
  • Richard Levinson

  • Rosemary Forsyth

    Joanna Ferris

  • William Link

  • Martin Milner

    Jim Ferris

  • Barbara Colby

    Lilly La Sanka

  • Fan Reviews (4)
  • Jack Cassidy brilliant as always

    By lyrikengel, May 31, 2014

  • By the Book, But Still Entertaining

    By DannMichalski, Aug 05, 2013

  • Steel trap encloses around writer.

    By jcoliver3, Nov 19, 2007

  • (spoilers) Noteworthy is the early directorial contribution of 24 year old Steven Spielberg.

    By LAntichristo, Jul 21, 2006

  • Trivia & Quotes
  • Quotes (12)

    • Columbo: I'll tell you what the secret is to a good omelet. No eggs, just milk.

    • Columbo: And those were mysteries, too, weren't they, huh? Joanna: Um-hmm. Columbo: They're tricky, I'll tell you that. I could never figure those things out.

    • Franklin: All right, now what are you doing here? Columbo: I'm waiting for you. I happened to be in the neighborhood... Franklin: You're always in the neighborhood!

    • Franklin: I must say, I don't envy you. Columbo: I don't envy myself.

    • Columbo: Hey, I'm sorry. I'm making a pest of myself. Ken Franklin: Naw! Columbo: Yes, yes, I am! I know, it's because I keep asking these questions, but I'll tell ya, I can't help myself. It's a habit.

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    Notes (7)

    • Marcia Wallace is credited, but all of her scenes were deleted and she doesn't appear in the final episode as aired.

    • This episode was directed by Steven Spielberg. In a later episode, "Mind Over Mayhem", a young whiz-kid character was named "Steven Spelberg," a reference to the (then) young director.

    • When Jack Cassidy was getting ready to play a scene as mystery-writer Ken Franklin, he would ask, "Who am I playing in this scene, Levinson or Link?" This was a reference to Richard Levinson and William Link, the creators and producers of Columbo.

    • This episode was originally filmed after "Death Lends a Hand," but the producers thought it was a stronger story and decided to lead with it for Columbo's first appearance as a new series.

    • Along with Patrick McGoohan (4 episodes), Robert Culp (4), William Shatner (2) and George Hamilton (2), Jack Cassidy (3) is one of only five actors to play more than one murderer on the series.

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    Trivia (6)

    • Columbo kneels down to get a bowl to grate the cheese for the omelet. However, when he takes the bowl out there is already cheese in it.

    • During the interview, Ken is clutching his hands in front of his face when the camera is on him. When the camera reverses angle and shows Gloria Jr., his hands are on the armrests of his chair.

    • As Ken asks Lilly how much blackmail she wants, the strawberry in her hand goes from intact (when the camera is behind her) to half-eaten (when the camera is facing her), even though she never puts it in her mouth.

    • Early in the episode, Ken points to 14 books and says that together they've done 15 Mrs. Melville books. The 15th is the one that Jim just finished. However, later Ken gives Lilly a copy of Prescription Murder, which is not among the 14 earlier ones. There's no reason for its omission, although there are two copies of Mrs. Melville in London.

    • In the beginning, Ken says that Jim wrote 15 Mrs. Melville novels. However, the shelf he gestures at has 16 books (two on the top with spines not visible). Also, when Ken returns to the office later, the two books on top have disappeared.

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    Allusions (1)

    • Book Ken gives Lily a copy of a Mrs. Melville book. The title is Prescription: Murder, which is the title of the original Columbo play and pilot.

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