Columbo (1971–2003)
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Murder by the Book 

When one member of a mystery writing team wants to break from his less talented partner, he becomes the victim in a real-life murder mystery.


Steven Spielberg


Steven Bochco, Richard Levinson (created by) | 1 more credit »




Episode complete credited cast:
Peter Falk ... Columbo
Jack Cassidy ... Ken Franklin
Rosemary Forsyth ... Joanna Ferris
Martin Milner ... Jim Ferris
Barbara Colby ... Lilly La Sanka
Lynnette Mettey Lynnette Mettey ... Gloria Jr.
Bernie Kuby ... Mike Tucker
Hoke Howell ... Sergeant
Marcia Wallace ... Woman (credit only)
Haven Earle Haley Haven Earle Haley ... 2nd Reporter


One half of a murder-mystery writing team kills his more talented partner after the latter announces his intentions to go solo which would ultimately leave the former in financial ruin. Later a grocery store owner, who has important information pertaining to the case and has romantic desires for the killer, sees this incident as an opportunity to blackmail him into having a relationship with her. Feeling cornered, he kills her and tries to make it look like she'd fallen off a boat and drowned in a drunken stupor.

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


TV-PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


In 1997, Murder by the Book was ranked at No. 16 in TV Guide's '100 Greatest Episodes of All Time' list. See more »


When the police are at Jim's office investigating his alleged shooting, it appears to be night time out side. When Columbo is back at his home, the scene outside shows it to be dusk. See more »


[first lines]
[Jim works in his office]
Jim Ferris: [knock on the door] Who is it?
[another knock on the door]
Jim Ferris: [He opens the door - Ken is aiming a gun at his face. Jim laughs]
Ken Franklin: Oh, you're not intimidated.
Jim Ferris: Oh, come on, Ken. You're forgetting that I'm one-half of the world's greatest mystery-writing team? You, ah, don't have gloves on, your finger's not on the trigger, and there are no bullets in the cylinder.
Ken Franklin: [smiling] You're right. I'm a lousy practical joker.
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References Prescription: Murder (1968) See more »


Love Theme from 'Red Sky At Morning'
Composed by Billy Goldenberg
Heard during the bar scene
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User Reviews

The best of the best in the Columbo series
2 July 2009 | by ericlday-1See all my reviews

Casting Jack Cassidy as Ken Frankin was sheer brilliance. Cassidy personified arrogance, confidence, charm and wit - all with a condescending, evil little smirk on his face. In my opinion, Jack Cassidy is by far the best murderer (having appeared three times) in the Columbo series. This particular (and first) performance, is my favorite Columbo episode ever - hands down. A fresh faced Steven Spielberg did amazing camera work (yes, there were a couple of camera shadows on the actors at times)capturing the nuances and banter at different and intriguing angles between Columbo and Franklin. Also, the panoramic and tight in shots at Big Bear Lake, CA (Franklin's cabin home) were very impressive.

If you have not yet seen this episode, then you owe it to yourself to do so - it's a true masterpiece.

Jack Cassidy was a very talented actor and singer. His charismatic personality was highly infectious. His death in 1976, at age 49 was very sad and indeed very tragic - he surely had his best years ahead of him. Rest in Peace Jack, you will live on for eternity through your great work.

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Release Date:

15 September 1971 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Homicidio de acuerdo con el libro See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Color | Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

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