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Reviewed by Asher Syed for Readers' Favorite
COVID-19 decimated the entertainment and hospitality sectors and with regard to the human body and enterprises that can only function if they are up and running, nobody and nothing was immune. In Automatic Stay by Mark Shaiken, a reader is shown the aftermath of the pandemic from an angle a lot of individuals don't know anything about, which is legal bankruptcy. Shaiken's main character is a bankruptcy lawyer named Josephina “3J” Jillian Jones in Kansas City. Her clients come to her after negotiations to resettle a loan privately fail with a man to whom they owe millions. Bankruptcy restructuring is a complex speciality that 3J understands and successfully petitions for professionally. The business owners are the Rapinoes and the lender is Phillip Dewey, whose success and understanding at successfully thwarting clients' attempts to bankrupt and short-change him means 3J is up for the fight of her career.
Automatic Stay is the second legal thriller I've read by Mark Shaiken that features 3J, the first being Fresh Start. I have an advantage that other readers possibly do not as a career Justice Department legal shark with a background in economics. I share this only to highlight that I can tell when an author is padding a story with legal maneuvers and jargon that do not exist. Shaiken is not one of those writers and the result is a story that neither requires too much suspension of disbelief and is also engrossing. The prose is clean and frequently elegant and the pacing is pitch perfect. I was also struck by the maturation of Shaiken's writing and being able to see an author grow in their work from the start makes me feel like I am a part of their journey. Fresh Start was impressive; Automatic Stay is remarkable. I look forward to the next 3J legal adventure and what comes next from the mind of a skilled author.