Columbo: Season 13, Episode 2

A Trace of Murder (15 May 1997)

TV Episode  |   |  Crime, Drama, Mystery
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Ratings: 7.3/10 from 706 users  
Reviews: 18 user | 3 critic

A beautiful wife and her forensic expert boyfriend try to frame her very rich husband for murder.



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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Patrick Kinsley
Cathleen Calvert
Clifford Calvert
Raye Birk ...
Howard Seltzer
Will Nye ...
Officer Will
Harry Jenkins
Alice Backes ...
Harriet Jenkins
Stuart March
Tracy Rose
District Attorney (as Kymberly S. Newberry)
Store Clerk


A millionaire's being threatened with a lawsuit by a man he did business with. When he gets into a fight with the man, his trophy wife is more embarrassed than concerned about her husband. Now she can't divorce her husband because of a pre-nuptial agreement. And if she kills him, she would be the prime suspect. So she along with her lover decides to kill the man who is suing her husband and frame her husband. Which they do. When Columbo investigates the murder, one of the forensic people helping him is the woman's lover. Written by <>

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Release Date:

15 May 1997 (USA)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Peter Falk always went on preliminary location scouts with his director, production manager, production designer, art director, set decorator, driver captain and location manager. The director Vince McAveety, production designer Hub Braden, the production manager Christopher Seiter, on the initial scout with Peter Falk, had to convince Peter that the location would make a great building to film exteriors and interiors. Budget restricted renting a Universal Studio's stage and building all the sets required for the scenario's set demands. Downtown Los Angeles, adjacent, north, of the Harbor Freeway, is the former Union 76 headquarters building. The front exterior and interior lobby was the location for the police headquarters. The rear delivery entrance of the building was also filmed as the police station. The lower garage area and driveway ramps were dressed with police graphics, police cars, for the headquarters garage area. The lower floor (Union 76) computer room was converted into a police lab. On the upper Union 76 executive suite floor, this open office area was converted into a penthouse setting. With stage flats, additional door entrances, closing down the expansive office area, the penthouse suite was created with the downtown city horizon as a master view. Several other offices in the building were converted into scripted offices and apartment interiors, requiring additional door flats, stage wall flats, painting, drapery and furniture dressing. The building's rooftop was also filmed. Since this "Columbo" was filmed, this building has been converted into a film production facility, which has built additional stages on adjacent property formerly owned by Union 76. See more »


When Columbo asks the female conspirator if she wants to talk to the DA, he indicates that the DA is a woman, saying that "she" is in the judge's chambers and that if "she" isn't, those in the judge's chamber would know where to find "her". A few minutes later, though, the police officer accompanying the woman to whom Columbo had said this yells across the street to Columbo that she had contacted the DA and that "he" was available and that they were going up to see "him". See more »


Lt. Columbo: Gee, I've got a dozen stops to make. You know, the first day of a homicide investigation, you wouldn't believe it. It's murder.
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User Reviews

One of the more watchable later episodes
10 April 2012 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

By all means A Trace of Murder is not quite one of the best of the later episodes, but it is a more than watchable and worthy one. I wasn't too crazy about the ending though, I liked the twist, but the reveal itself too too dragged-out and contrived for my liking. Still, it is like all the Columbos a well made episode, with a score that fits well with the atmosphere and tension. The writing also convinces, especially in the pleasingly subtle comedy, and the story is diverting with a good mix of tense, charming and humorous scenes. Peter Falk is still excellent as Columbo, was there anything this man could not do, and while Shera Danese is solid in her most interesting role of the series I found Barry Corbin as the volatile framed husband even better. All in all, very watchable, and while not one of the best A Trace of Murder is a worthy episode still. 8/10 Bethany Cox

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