I’ve been in a Columbo mood ever since reading The Columbo Collection by William Link. I picked up a couple of more I hadn’t read. This one, COLUMBO AND THE SAMAURAI SWORD, seems to be the rarest of them all. Published in 1980, it was the seventh tale of our favorite Lieutenant at the time(Popular Library had stopped after six adaptations of some of the better TV episodes. It was an original that I’d never heard of until I was doing research for a post on the Link book. I had trouble finding it and only found one copy of an omnibus edition for The Detective Book Club that contained it. No copies of it solo and I couldn’t even find a decent cover illustration on the internet. The one above comes from the omnibus cover.
It is an atypical Columbo story. We know the killer is a woman and that a man comes in behind to clean up after her, taking away the murder weapon(Columbo finds a Wakizashi, a Japanese short sword worn by Samaurai and paired with a Katana in a dumpster behind the restaurant. It wasn’t the murder weapon though. No blood). Descriptions of the bodies(three more murders happen during the story) are especially grisly. There is a high speed car chase here(I had visions for a second of Columbo in his battered little 1950 Peugeot convertible) in an unmarked police vehicle. Competing police divisions because there was also a drug investigation(cocaine) going on in the restaurant. And in the finale, Columbo is stalked by the murderer in a protracted scene with a Katana.
I did enjoy this one though. Not familiar with either writer, but they seem to have a significant body of work.