VALERY SHORE – Final Payment

Major Books 3236, paperback original; copyright 1978; no other date stated.

   Next on the agenda, and the final book I read in 2006, is the only mystery written by the pseudonymous Valery Shore. Al Hubin in Crime Fiction IV says that Shore was the pen name of Lon Viser, born in 1932. All I’ve been able to come up with regarding Mr. Viser is that he had something to do with the American Art Agency, a publisher based in North Hollywood in 1965.

   From the small print inside Atualidades Globo Controle Da Natalidade, written in Portuguese and illustrated throughout, aka The Complete Book of Birth Control:

   Parliament News, Inc. Publisher: Milton Luros. Executive Editor: Harold Straubing. Managing Editor: Lon Viser. Art Director: Wil Hulsey. Associate Art Director: J. D. Pecoraro.

   It’s not a common name. Maybe it’s the same man. All that comes up for Valery Shore, in case you were wondering, are a few dealers offering this book for sale on eBay, or maybe it’s the same book offered at different times. I didn’t check.

   The dedication reads as follows: “To Yvonne, Rhoda, and Lon, without whose help this book could not have been written,” so I assume that Al is correct – not that there’s any reason to doubt him.


   The primary detective in Final Payment is a former Scotland Yard inspector by the name of Christopher Camel, still young, who’d recently been left a fortune by an aunt, in her day a sex symbol of the silver screen. Staying with Camel in his aunt’s Tudor-style Hollywood mansion is “his beautiful Eurasian companion, Kim Lee Chance.” I’m quoting from the back cover.

   In attendance upon them both is Potter Goodleigh, his aunt’s former lover and a long ago movie director who’d been exiled to the guest cottage, but who is now cook, butler and father figure to the two young people who are now “livening up the old museum,” as he puts it.

    It is Potter’s daughter Felicia who’s murdered, her body found in the piano in her living room. Unfortunately Felicia was also a blackmailer, and there are thirteen suspects that Camel, Kim Lee, and the local lieutenant of police named Davidson have to deal with. In spite of his new-found money and all of his resultant leisure time, there is no way Camel can be kept off the case, as you can well imagine if it had happened to you and sunny fortune had smiled your way in such a fashion.

    The story, as I’ve relayed to you so far, may also sound to you as the basis for a made-for-TV mystery movie. If so, you share my feelings exactly, and I have the advantage of having actually read the book. If you also were to suspect that on page 177 there would be a gathering of the suspects in the dead woman’s living room, in an attempt to recreate the crime, I would certainly begin to wonder about you. How could you possibly know that it was on page 177?

   As entertaining as made-for-TV mystery movies may be, and some more than others, in general I’ve always had a relatively low opinion of them. This one, I’ll conclude by saying, is better than most of them. If there had ever been a second book in the series, I’d make sure that I had it in my collection too.

— written in December 2006

UPDATE [03-01-07] Victor Berch has done some preliminary spadework on Lon Viser, and so far he’s come up with the following: His full name as Lorenzo Ludwick Viser, born February 26, 1932 in FL, died August 9, 1994 in LA. There was a Lorenzo M. Viser living with him in the 90s, probably a son. More later, if and when!