Next Episode -->

Columbo: Murder by the Book

Publicist and co-partner Ken Franklin plots the murder of his talented partner Jim Ferris. He commits the perfect murder but finds that a woman, Lilly La Sanka, saw him near the murder scene and can implicate him. Now Franklin must plot a second murder, while Columbo tries to determine who killed Ferris.

Episode Info  

Episode number: 1x3
Airdate: Wednesday September 15th, 1971

Special Guest Stars
Martin MilnerMartin Milner
As Jim Ferris

Guest Stars
Jack CassidyJack Cassidy
As Ken Franklin
Rosemary ForsythRosemary Forsyth
As Joanna Ferris

Co-Guest Stars
Barbara ColbyBarbara Colby
As Lilly La Sanka
Lynette MetteyLynette Mettey
As Gloria Jr.
Bernie KubyBernie Kuby
As Mike Tucker
Hoke HowellHoke Howell
As Sergeant
Marcia WallaceMarcia Wallace
As Woman (deleted scenes)
Haven Earle HaleyHaven Earle Haley
As 2nd Reporter

Anitra FordAnitra Ford
As Ken's Theater Date
Main Cast
Peter FalkPeter Falk
As Lieutenant Columbo


Mystery writer Jim Ferris is working on a new Mrs. Melville novel in his office when his partner, PR agent Ken Franklin, arrives to pay him a visit. He knocks on the door and when Jim comes to answer it, Ken points a gun at him. Jim points out that the gun isn’t loaded, Ken doesn’t have gloves on, and his finger isn’t on the trigger, so he clearly has no plans to kill his partner. Ken says that he was heading down to the cabin, but wanted to stop and apologize for losing his temperature the other day. He offers Jim a bottle of champagne as a peace offering and gives a toast to the break-up of their partnership. Ken seems to take it well, and Jim is clearly uncomfortable. He says that he just wants to write on his own, and Ken assures him that their friendship is the important thing...

Read the full recap
Episode Notes
The Mrs. Melville novel that Ken gives to Lilly is titled Prescription Murder, which is also the name of the original stage play featuring Columbo, which was eventually made into the first pilot movie.

Episode Quotes
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 Ferris: Um-hmm.
Columbo: They're tricky, I'll tell you that. I could never figure those things out.

Ken Franklin: I'll tell you something, Lieutenant. See, if Mrs. Melville were on this case, oh, she'd be leaps and bounds ahead of you by now.
Columbo: Is that the lady in the books?

Columbo: I don't understand.
Ken Franklin: Well, that's painfully obvious. One of these men had Jim killed.
Columbo: Really? Why?
Ken Franklin: Tell me something--how long have you been a lieutenant, Lieutenant? Mrs. Melville would have put that together like that.

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

Ken Franklin: Now, wait a minute. You--you look like you're troubled. Is there some reason for your question?
Columbo: Uh, it's your mail.
Ken Franklin: My mail?
Columbo: Isn't it funny how people are different? Now, me, if I found my partner dead, I'd never think of opening my letters.
Ken Franklin: But I--I--I just did it to distract myself. I mean, you gotta remember one thing. That's a great shock.
Columbo: Oh, that's understandable. And bills are distracting.

Columbo: Hey, I'm sorry. I'm making a pest of myself.
Ken Franklin: Naawww.
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.

Columbo: So you don't think I'm going to be able to find a cabin to rent, huh?
Ken Franklin: Best bet is to go down and check with some of the local real estate people.
Columbo: Uh huh. Because I think it would be fun to be neighbors for a couple of weeks.
Ken Franklin: Yeah.

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

Ken Franklin: That's a provocative statement. Can you prove that?
Columbo: Yes. Not with the witness, 'cause you killed the witness. But I got another way to prove it.
Ken Franklin: Will you enlighten me? I must say, I enjoy watching a man raise without any cards in his hand

Columbo: You know what, Ken? I'm gonna tell you the truth. For awhile there I never thought I was gonna get you. Believe me, you had me going in such circles. I couldn't figure it out. Suddenly, I thought of something-- how clever that first murder was--the phone gimmick, working in late in the office. Brilliant!
Ken Franklin: Are you awarding gold medals today?
Columbo: Yes! For the first one, not for the second one. That was sloppy. Mrs. Melville, she'd have been very disappointed.

Ken Franklin: You want to know the irony of all this? That is my idea. The only really good one I ever had. I must have told it to Jim over five years ago. Who ever thought that idiot would write it down?

Episode Goofs
When Ken looks at the collection of his and Jim's books in Jim's office, they are in one pattern. When he returns later to mess up the office, they are in a totally different pattern.

When Columbo makes an omelet for Joanna, he goes to get a bowl to put the grated cheese in. However, the bowl already has grated cheese in it when he removes it from the cabinet.

When Ken talks to Lilly at the restaurant and asks how much money she wants, the strawberry in her hand is intact when the camera faces Ken. When it cuts back to her, it is half-eaten even though she never brought it to her mouth.

During the interview, Ken's hands go from in front of his face (when the camera faces him) to on the armrests (when the camera faces Gloria Jr.

Other Episode Crew

CreatorRichard Levinson  |  William Link
ProducerWilliam Link  |  Richard Levinson
Associate ProducerRobert F. O'Neill
Costume DesignerBurton Miller
Set DecoratorRichard Friedman (2)
Director of PhotographyRussell Metty
Story EditorSteven Bochco
Art DirectorArchie J. Bacon
Main Title DesignAttila De Lado
Music ScoreBilly Goldenberg
Film EditorJohn Kaufman Jr.
SoundDavid H. Moriarty
Assistant DirectorRalph Ferrin
Unit ManagerHenry Kline
Editorial SupervisorRichard Belding
Theme MusicHenry Mancini
Missing Information
Click here to add Music
Click here to add Cultural References
Click here to add Episode References
Click here to add Analysis