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This chapter briefly traces some of the primary influences for Columbo, ranging from Dostoyevsky’s detective Petrovich to Georges Simenon’s Commissioner Maigret. It then turns to the series’ fascination with class difference, in which the lieutenant is regularly pitted against the wealthy denizens of Los Angeles. Offering a series of close readings, the chapter reveals the series’ preoccupation with money and the ways in which economics are most certainly tied to questions of power. The detective enters into a battle of wits with the murderers he investigates, invariably playing a cat-and-mouse game. Time and again, Columbo is mistaken by his opponents for a bumbling fool, but his television audience is always the wiser.

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