Columbo (1971–2003)
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Publish or Perish 

A publisher hires a bomb enthusiast to murder a bestselling author of sex novels. Lt. Columbo is on the case.



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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Riley Greenleaf
Mickey Spillane ...
Alan Mallory
Eileen McRae
Jeffrey Neal
Eddie Kane (as John Chandler)
Lou D'Allessandro
David Chase
Sgt. Young
Security Guard
Vern Rowe ...
Restaurant Manager
Lab Technician
George Brenlin ...
J.S. Johnson ...


Riley Greenleaf is a publisher and Alan Mallory, a successful writer, is his principal asset. But Alan Mallory has decided to change publishers. Riley threatens to kill Alan. Then he hires Eddie Kane, a Vietnam veteran, to murder Alan and to leave evidence that the killer is Riley himself, who has an excellent alibi. But a key will betray him. Written by Baldinotto da Pistoia

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Release Date:

18 January 1974 (USA)  »

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Technical Specs


(dvd release)

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Columbo reviews the key plot points from a previous episode, Columbo: Candidate for Crime (1973). Riley Greenleaf responds, "Lieutenant, very frankly, I don't give a damn about your senator or your story." See more »


Eddie Kane mentions a "Bouncing Betty" to Riley Greenleaf, but when asked what it is, he describes an ordinary landmine. See more »


Mrs. Morgan: [to an apparently drunk Greenleaf] Sir, in your condition I should call the police.
Riley Greenleaf: [sarcastically] Madame, in your condition, i'd call a plastic surgeon.
See more »


References Columbo: Candidate for Crime (1973) See more »

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User Reviews

Mickey Spillane is in for it in this amusing rehash of "Murder by the Book"
22 December 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Riley Greenleaf (Jack Cassidy) publishes the bestselling sex novels of Alan Mallory (Mickey Spillane), who is about to leave Greenleaf and sign with a rival firm eager to publish his new novel set during the Vietnam War. But Greenleaf's firm has a life insurance policy on Mallory. Enter Eddie Kane (John Chandler), a bomb enthusiast and Vietnam veteran, who has written a manuscript called "How to Blow Anything Up in Ten Easy Lessons." Greenleaf thrills him with the promise of getting it published; Kane in turn considers doing a hit job on Mallory a trivial favor. Little does Kane guess what Greenleaf has planned for him after filling that part of the bargain.

"Publish or Perish" is a rehash of a great early "Columbo" episode, "Murder by the Book," which also starred Jack Cassidy. This time Cassidy has a far more complex murder plot—too complex for his own good. There are too many ways it could go wrong, as it inevitably does. Still, he seems to have our rumpled Lieutenant Columbo (Peter Falk) going for awhile. Although Greenleaf makes some tiny Freudian slips, which Columbo immediately seizes upon, he actually seems to convince our brilliant detective that someone is trying to frame him. Then again, we can never quite read Columbo. Is he—as is almost always the case—only pretending to buy the murderer's line of bull?

This is no "Murder by the Book," but it's an entertaining episode with a good cast. Cassidy is fine doing pretty much what he did in "Book." Chandler is perfectly cast as the hit-man and gives a memorably creepy performance. Mariette Hartley appears as a rival publisher, beautifully freckled and free of makeup. Spillane is no actor, but it's fun seeing the real-life pulp novelist in this role. Robert Butler directs Peter S. Fischer's script in a show-offy, but mainly effective manner: the murder scene, at one point, shows us Cassidy, Chandler and Spillane in a thrice-split screen. Billy Goldenberg provides a weird electronic score that I enjoyed. "Columbo" fans will be happy with this one.

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