Automatic Stay

Fiction - Thriller - Legal
406 Pages
Reviewed on 06/16/2022
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Mark lives with his wife Loren and their dog Emily in Denver, CO. He schooled at Haverford College and Washburn University, and practiced commercial bankruptcy law for several decades before moving on in 2019 to write, volunteer, travel, and play music. In addition to his latest award-winning legal thriller, “Automatic Stay,” he is the author of "And . . Just Like That - essays on a life before, during, and after the law" and "Fresh Start," the first legal thriller in his 3J series. He has just finished the next in the 3J series, “Unfair Discrimination,” due out in late fall, 2022, and will begin work on the next in the series, “Cram Down,” shortly. Connect with Mark at htttp://

    Book Review

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.

Rabia Tanveer

Automatic Stay is the second book in the 3J Mystery series by Mark Shaiken. The story of bankruptcy lawyer Josephina Jillian Jones (3J) and her partner Bill Pascale continues as they tackle yet another high-profile case. Their current clients are Adam and Bey Rapinoe who want to file for bankruptcy for their 6 jazz clubs in Kansas City even after surviving the disastrous COVID-19 pandemic. The case should be easy, but it isn’t. An unknown enemy of Adam and Bey is doing everything in his power to destroy their business. Running a disinformation campaign, their enemy is ready to take over their lives. It is now up to 3J and Pascale to figure out who this person is and stop him before it is too late.

Action-packed and fast-paced, author Mark Shaiken has written an adrenaline-inducing legal thriller. While I didn’t read the first novel in the series, I had zero issues with catching up. 3J is a reliable protagonist who keeps readers engaged and invested in the story. She is intelligent and cunning, a perfect combination that stops her from becoming insufferable or too good to be true. I won’t reveal the name of the antagonist, but readers will love to hate him. Mark Shaiken put a lot of thought into creating and developing the antagonist, and it shows how well-rounded he is. 3J and Pascale work well together. The narrative is fun and very entertaining. The mystery stays alive until the very last moment, and I enjoyed how 3J and Pascale had to work their butts off to win their new case. There is depth to the story, and I loved unraveling each new piece of information as it was revealed. Highly recommended!

Jamie Michele

Automatic Stay by Mark Shaiken is a legal thriller built around two fictional Kansas City, Missouri lawyers and is the sequel to the first book in the 3J Mystery series, Fresh Start. The book begins after the worst of the global COVID-19 pandemic has passed and, once more, in-person and hospitality businesses are beginning to reopen. At least the ones that kept afloat during the lockdown, which were few. Among the businesses hoping to restructure and get some breathing room by way of a bankruptcy filing and the automatic stay it affords are the Rapinoes, owners of a chain of jazz clubs in Kansas City. Their private lender, Philip Dewey, to whom the Rapinoes owe a substantial amount of money, is not having it, and bankruptcy lawyer 3J—Josephina Jillian Jones—is about to find out just how serious Dewey is in his threat to the Rapinoes to extract from them every single penny owed.

In the interests of full disclosure, I love a good legal thriller but I've never read one that revolved around bankruptcy lawyers. I mean, come on. What the heck kind of hair-raising reading experience can professionals with their photographs on grocery store carts offer me? Hellloooooo, Mark Shaiken and his—yes, very thrilling—novel Automatic Stay. Two things make this a genuine delight to read. The first is a first-person narrative from the king of character quirk himself, Phillip Dewey, a guy whose raspy breath and bow ties can probably be characters themselves. He is developed so well and his backstory and ticks are so incredibly fleshed out that he is impossible not to root for. You don't want him to win because if he does there won't be another stealthy bankruptcy 3J book, but you kind of do because how great would THAT be? The second is 3J herself, who is somehow able to have lengthy monologues on the law without forcing a reader to skim. This is an intriguing story with exceptional casting and, my gosh, if you do not look at another bus station sign and think 3J should be on it, you're absolutely hopeless. Very highly recommended.