The Lt. Columbo Forum

An area where fans from all over can ask each other questions and voice their own ideas and opinions on anything Columbo.

This Forum is fondly dedicated in memory of  "cassavetes45"  (Carleen Zink),
Columbo's greatest fan and a great friend to us all.
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Re: "Murder by the book" - what was the evidence?

Murder by the Book is one of those episodes that I feel that with a really good lawyer, the killer actually gets off. All the evidence is circumstantial and there's no hard proof that Columbo can use to definitely say he's the killer. The Most Crucial Game is another one. Columbo's evidence is no clock chime on the recording. Who's to say that the battery in the clock hadn't died or that it wasn't wound up and had stopped?

Re: "Murder by the book" - what was the evidence?

Brett
Murder by the Book is one of those episodes that I feel that with a really good lawyer, the killer actually gets off. All the evidence is circumstantial and there\'s no hard proof that Columbo can use to definitely say he\'s the killer. The Most Crucial Game is another one. Columbo\'s evidence is no clock chime on the recording. Who\'s to say that the battery in the clock hadn\'t died or that it wasn\'t wound up and had stopped?
But didn't the clock chime when Columbo was there when he told Hanlon of Wagner's death?

So clearly Columbo knows the clock wasn't broke if he tries and claims it is.

Re: "Murder by the book" - what was the evidence?

I think the chiming clock is an excellent clue and the way the scene is directed it comes off as incriminating!

Re: "Murder by the book" - what was the evidence?

This ending tends to get unfairly criticized. People often focus on the weak points instead of its merits. I agree that the evidence at the end is not perfect, but it makes Ken look very bad, and it is supported by enough other clues to give Columbo a pretty strong circumstantial case. But I never viewed Franklin’s final statements as a true confession, although I’m sure they will be used against him. It almost seemed like his pride forced him to take credit for the one good idea he had in his life, even if it meant incriminating himself even further. There were a few moments in the episode where he appears to have some jealousy/resentment for his partners talents. He indignantly declares, “That’s a lie!” when Columbo tells him that Mrs. Ferris said that her husband did all the work. So I think the evidence is good (although not excellent), there is context for Ken’s final statement to Columbo, and the ending is clever and fits the story well from a mystery standpoint.

Re: "Murder by the book" - what was the evidence?

Columbo acknowledges that the final clue by itself wasn’t enough. But with all of the other things factored in, he believed he had enough to arrest Ken Franklin. I personally like the final clue reveals to be rock solid. Even the clock not chiming is a decent final clue. Although in real life Hanlon could say the clock was broken, etc., in the flow of drama Hanson’s alibi was broken. It’s a good “gotcha”.

The Murder By The Book clue was weak because all it showed was that Ken Franklin knew of a way to kill his partner. There was no proof that he actually did it?

It was a great episode nonetheless. If Columbo were more realistic I think this lawyer would ruin every episode, lol:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d-7o9xYp7eE

Re: "Murder by the book" - what was the evidence?

Listen closely to Franklin's explanations as to why they never published it; " we couldn't figure out the ending".
Like the fictitious writing duo, Levinson and Link are being semi-autobiographical.
It's such a great episode that one can sorta overlook the less than convincing climax.

Re: "Murder by the book" - what was the evidence?

All the cards are often not face up when the killer folds. When Franklin didn’t want Columbo to keep reading the idea on the scrap of paper, there’s implication that the continuation would bear a similar pattern to the murder plot. That’s part of the fun stuff. Then there’re phone records: the call from the cabin. Immediately after that call, Mrs. Ferris called the police – the back-to-back timing on these calls can easily be worked out. The call record from Lily Lasanka’s store can also be factored in. It’s really about the entertainment though: Franklin (in the presence of the officer), “You gotta admit I had you goin’” – and yeah, I suppose Franklin, not being a writer, would not think “that idiot would ever write it down.”

Re: "Murder by the book" - what was the evidence?

That’s a good point about the remaining details in the written outline of the murder plot that Franklin didn’t want Columbo to read out loud. If they included trashing the office, planting a motive to implicate the mob, A disposing of B’s body on A’s own lawn as though A is being sent a warning...that would be almost impossible for Ken to explain those exact similarities.

Re: "Murder by the book" - what was the evidence?

MBR
That’s a good point about the remaining details in the written outline of the murder plot that Franklin didn’t want Columbo to read out loud. If they included trashing the office, planting a motive to implicate the mob, A disposing of B’s body on A’s own lawn as though A is being sent a warning...that would be almost impossible for Ken to explain those exact similarities.
Excellent points!
The ending MIGHT have worked better had It. exposed more of the outline he discovered

Next time I watch I will pretend he read the whole outline!!!

Re: "Murder by the book" - what was the evidence?

Big Jake
All the cards are often not face up when the killer folds. When Franklin didn’t want Columbo to keep reading the idea on the scrap of paper, there’s implication that the continuation would bear a similar pattern to the murder plot. That’s part of the fun stuff. Then there’re phone records: the call from the cabin. Immediately after that call, Mrs. Ferris called the police – the back-to-back timing on these calls can easily be worked out. The call record from Lily Lasanka’s store can also be factored in. It’s really about the entertainment though: Franklin (in the presence of the officer), “You gotta admit I had you goin’” – and yeah, I suppose Franklin, not being a writer, would not think “that idiot would ever write it down.”
Right.
You and Catz have correctly noted the timing of the phone calls points to Franklin's duplicity. ( maybe the ending would have worked better if he made more of this).Coupled with his written description of the ruse, you have strong a case.
Thanks guys, I can now move this episode into my ' top ten' !

Re: "Murder by the book" - what was the evidence?

Hafta give props to Sheldon Catz
He wrote that if you put the phone calls in sequence you must conclude that Ferris called his wife from the cabin
I had that comment spinning in my head for hours before I could wrap my head around it!