Up 4,041 this week

Murder by the Book (1987)

TV Movie  |  Unrated  |   |  Comedy, Crime, Mystery  |  17 March 1987 (USA)
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 5.3/10 from 107 users  
Reviews: 3 user | 1 critic

Mild-mannered mystery writer D. H. Mercer has become so immersed in his material that his creation, hard-boiled private eye Biff Deegan constantly appears to him as a hallucination. Intent ... See full summary »



(teleplay), (television story), 2 more credits »
0Check in

Watch Now

$0.00 with Prime Video


TV Spotlight: The Top 10 Episodes of "The Walking Dead"

We've curated a list of the top 10 episodes of "The Walking Dead" according to the IMDb user ratings.

Read More

User Lists

Related lists from IMDb users

a list of 3400 titles
created 10 Mar 2012
a list of 830 titles
created 16 Mar 2013
list image
a list of 45 titles
created 08 Sep 2013
a list of 285 titles
created 03 Feb 2014
a list of 10 titles
created 2 weeks ago

Related Items

Connect with IMDb

Share this Rating

Title: Murder by the Book (TV Movie 1987)

Murder by the Book (TV Movie 1987) on IMDb 5.3/10

Want to share IMDb's rating on your own site? Use the HTML below.

Take The Quiz!

Test your knowledge of Murder by the Book.



Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Murder by the Book (TV Series 2006)
Documentary | Crime
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

Well-known crime authors talk about some of the most compelling true crime stories that have long captivated them.

Stars: Ron McLarty, Kalina Justice, Stephen Young
Action | Comedy | Crime
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

Career criminal Frank plans a bank heist and sends for his buddies to help pull the job. Before his buddies arrive, he's caught, forcing his cohorts to pull the job alone. Frank soon escapes, setting off a search by the bumbling cops.

Director: Jim Kouf
Stars: Hoyt Axton, Corbin Bernsen, Rubén Blades
Trenchcoat (1983)
Comedy | Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.3/10 X  

An aspiring mystery writer becomes accidently embroiled in an international plot during a two-week stay in Malta.

Director: Michael Tuchner
Stars: Margot Kidder, Robert Hays, Gila von Weitershausen
Black Dragons (1942)
Thriller | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.2/10 X  

A cabal of American industrialists, all fifth-columnists intent on sabotaging the war effort, are methodically murdered by the malevolent Monsieur Colomb. It is only until detective Dick ... See full summary »

Director: William Nigh
Stars: Bela Lugosi, Joan Barclay, George Pembroke
Dudes (1987)
Adventure | Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.6/10 X  

Two punks from the big city, traveling across the country in a Volkswagen bug, embrace the western ethos when they must take revenge against a group of rednecks for killing their friend in ... See full summary »

Director: Penelope Spheeris
Stars: Jon Cryer, Daniel Roebuck, Flea
Scandalous (1984)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.4/10 X  

An investigative reporter following an espionage story goes to London and gets involved with murder, scam artists and rock concerts.

Director: Rob Cohen
Stars: Robert Hays, Ron Travis, M. Emmet Walsh
Murder by the Book (TV Movie 1986)
Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

Poirot has been murdered! Did Agatha Christie do it?

Director: Lawrence Gordon Clark
Stars: Peggy Ashcroft, Ian Holm, Richard Wilson
Murder in Black and White (TV Movie 1990)
Crime | Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6/10 X  

A recently appointed black police commissioner is killed. So, Frank Janek is assigned to investigate.

Director: Robert Iscove
Stars: Richard Crenna, Diahann Carroll, Cliff Gorman
Murder by Natural Causes (TV Movie 1979)
Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

Allison, the unfaithful wife of a famous mentalist with a heart problem, together with her lover tries to kill him by scaring him to death, but the whole thing goes downhill when (spoiler)

Director: Robert Day
Stars: Richard Anderson, Katharine Ross, Hal Holbrook
Action | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.2/10 X  

In the nuclear ravaged wasteland of Earth 2087 water is as precious as life itself. The isolated Lost Wells outpost survived the holocaust and the inhabitants guard the source of their ... See full summary »

Director: Lee H. Katzin
Stars: Bruce Dern, Michael Paré, Catherine Mary Stewart
Annihilator (TV Movie 1986)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.3/10 X  

Humanoid killer robots stalk a newspaperman (Mark Lindsay Chapman), who has knowledge of their existence. One of the robots is made to look like his girl friend (Catherine Mary Stewart).

Director: Michael Chapman
Stars: Mark Lindsay Chapman, Susan Blakely, Lisa Blount
Crime | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

A psychological thriller based on the novel by Agatha Christie. Ten strangers are forced to come face to face with their dark pasts after receiving invitation to an isolated island off the coast of England.

Director: Stanislav Govorukhin
Stars: Vladimir Zeldin, Tatyana Drubich, Aleksandr Kaydanovskiy


Cast overview, first billed only:
D.H. 'Hank' Mercer / Biff Deegan
Lieutenant Greenberg
Victor Greville
Jonathan Moore ...
Nicholas Rubinstein
Martin Neufeld ...
Bunty Webb
Robin Ward
Eric Fink
Thick Wilson
Al Bernardo
Louis Di Bianco


Mild-mannered mystery writer D. H. Mercer has become so immersed in his material that his creation, hard-boiled private eye Biff Deegan constantly appears to him as a hallucination. Intent on getting rid of Biff, and replacing him with a more civilized detective, Mercer soon finds himself in a genuine mystery involving art fraud, murder, and a beautiful lady in peril. Written by Mark Limvere-Robinson

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Unrated | See all certifications »





Release Date:

17 March 1987 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Alter Ego  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Filmed in 1985 but not broadcast until 1987. See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

TV movie from the '80s
30 July 2014 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

"Murder by the Book," also known as "Alter Ego," is a 1987 TV movie starring Robert Hays and Catherine Mary Stewart. The film also features Fred Gwynne and Celeste Holm.

Hays plays a mystery writer, D.H. "Hank" Mercer who writes stories about a hard-boiled detective, Biff Deegan. He's grown tired of Biff, and he tells his agent he has a new idea for a character. While in a restaurant with his agent, he sees a pretty young woman (and you know it's the '80s because her hair goes out about three feet) being forced into a car. The perpetrator is an extremely wealthy man (Gwynne).

Mercer is determined to find out what is going on. While doing so, his fictional detective starts showing up and giving him advice.

Cute. Hays is such a likable and attractive actor, one wonders why the success of "Airport" didn't translate into some better vehicles for him.

This is really light as air, but enjoyable nonetheless.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Discuss Murder by the Book (1987) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: