So few books are dedicated to the Columbo tv show, at least in terms of getting the background information to the making of the series etc., so this book has especially a very special place within the hearts of many Columbo fans.
Writer, Mark Dawidziak, does a wonderful job in revealing many of the behind the scenes goings on, right from the time the Columbo creators came up with the original Columbo character (and even before), through to Peter Falk taking on the role, and beyond. Intelligently written, and concise, the great thing about this book is it doesn't overburden the reader with some over elaborate, long winded explanations, like some books tend to do, the style of writing is straight to the point.
The central theme, unsurprisingly, is Columbo actor Peter Falk. Not that the book's aim is to flatter Falk necessarily, because much of the information here relates to Falk's difficult side when working on the show. Ongoing battles with the tv executives over pay, Falk's insistence on numerous re-takes resulting in the show running well over budget, and also Falk's desire to have a greater role within the creativity of the series, is well documented. However, much deserved praise is also given to his portrayal, and the thought that perhaps he played a more than considerable part in the series' success. The claim is pretty much made that the show would never have been anywhere near as successful with anyone else, but Falk.
The series guide is also enlightening, as there is a detailed review of each storyline, and remarks by the author on the episode's effectiveness, and so on. Mark Dawidziak certainly knows his stuff, with regard to his analysis, because there is a strong sense of logic behind much of what he has to say. Not that i always agree with him, mind, there are occasions when i take the opposite view, but he always makes an extremely interesting case.
If there is a downside to this book it is that, being printed in 1989, there is no analysis on the later series, Columbo's return, so to speak. However, if you are like me, and feel that the original seventies series was Columbo at his peak, and the comeback series was always a very pale imitation, maybe the loss won't be felt too strongly. Having said that, it would be nice if Mark could perhaps come up with an updated version, because if anyone is qualified to do a follow up, he's your man. There are also times when perhaps he could go into greater depth into some of the things he only hints at here.
Being out of print, the price for this book does appear a little steep. However, if you truly love the series, i still wholeheartedly recommend it. You won't be disappointed.