Cram Down

A 3J Legal Thriller

Fiction - Thriller - Legal
347 Pages
Reviewed on 09/14/2023
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Author Biography

Mark lives with his wife Loren and their dog Emily in Denver, Colorado. He schooled at Haverford College and Washburn University, and practiced commercial bankruptcy law for almost forty years before moving on in 2019 to write, volunteer, travel, and play music. He is the author of the following books in his best-selling, award-winning 3J Legal Thriller Series, all set in Kansas City, with a backdrop of Jazz, BBQ and history: “Cram Down,” "Unfair Discrimination," "Automatic Stay," and "Fresh Start." He is also the author of "And . . Just Like That - essays on a life before, during, and after the law" (a memoir of a not famous lawyer). Connect with Mark at

    Book Review

Reviewed by Alma Boucher for Readers' Favorite

Cram Down is a legal thriller by Mark Shaiken. Amadi and his twin, Jordan, had inherited the bank from their parents, with Amadi as the majority owner. Due to circumstances, Amadi had to sell some of his shares to his brother. Their parents had made a loan to Abode LLC decades ago, but Jordan does not want the loan to be renewed. The goal of Abode was to buy property, build affordable single-family homes, and sell them for prices below market value and with financing that was also below market value. The Franklins employed Josephina Jillian Jones, known as 3J to her friends, a lawyer in Kansas City, to help save Abode LLC. When Amadi suddenly disappears, Jordan is the obvious suspect. Jones will need assistance and some luck to save Abode and Amadi.

Mark Shaiken’s thriller, Cram Down, is extraordinary. I was intrigued from the first page until the end. All the twists and turns had me guessing until the end. I could not put it down, too afraid I would miss something. It was a page-turner, and the suspense kept me on the edge of my seat. The characters were relatable and could be anyone I know. It surprised me how two siblings can differ from each other. The community only praised Amadi's good qualities, while no one had time for Jordan. The story is excellently written, with enough action to keep it interesting. I did not expect that the story would hold me captive. So much happened at the end, and I didn't expect such a conclusion.

Essien Asian

When the Commonwealth Savings and Loans Bank suddenly decides to sever its working relationship with Abode LLC, Josephina Jillian Jones is irked by the sequence of events and works her way into a position to help the organization retain its only source of credit. As she digs deeper she discovers that Abode is the unfortunate victim of a power tussle that goes far beyond greed and simmering sibling rivalry. Can her legal prowess enable the embattled company to navigate dangerous waters safely? Loyalties are about to be tested as a battle where blood ties hold little power ensues in Mark Shaiken’s Cram Down: A 3J Legal Thriller.

Courtroom drama and boardroom politics collide in yet another of Mark Shaiken’s works featuring Josephina Jillian James or 3J as she is better known. His storyline showcases excellent conversations between his characters. It is deep and crafted in such a manner that the reader has to connect the dots. In true Shaiken style, an appreciation for history is highlighted and the suspense is amped up from start to finish ensuring the reader is immersed in this riveting account. I love the way the friction between Jordan and Amadi is built up as Shaiken pushes the narrative from both brothers’ viewpoints. It enables a better understanding of the backstory of the novel and makes it easier to identify with their motives. Cram Down is an exciting tale that provides as much drama in the courtroom as outside on the streets which makes it the perfect story for the avid lovers of the suspense genre.

Asher Syed

In Cram Down by Mark Shaiken, a bank founded by former slaves faces collapse over a dispute between the Browne brothers, with majority holder Jordan prioritizing profit while Amadi backs the Abode housing project. Josephina Jillian "3J" Jones recognizes the importance of housing in addressing inner-city challenges, stepping in with Pascale when negotiations with Jordan by the Abode founders break down. Jordan's extreme measures to temporarily remove Amadi from the bank led to organized crime after 3J proposed collaborating with Amadi to regain control of the bank, potentially saving both Commonwealth and Abode. As 3J works to locate Amadi, Jordan ratchets up the stakes, harboring a secret pointing to an internal conflict where money might not be at the heart of an issue for a man with little left to lose.

Cram Down by Mark Shaiken is the fourth book in the 3J Legal Thriller series, with its titular protagonist being a lawyer who fights at the legal street level to serve justice and the disenfranchised. This is not the first 3J novel I've read, and I admit I wasn't entirely convinced that Shaiken could strike gold a fourth time, but here we are with a glittering new story. I really liked the direction in which this thriller went, with Amadi being such an excellent character on paper and in moral fortitude that he was actually able to maneuver in a basement on his own, and it is believable. As far as female leads, 3J is at the top of the food chain. I'm a father, and she is exactly the protagonist I want in the books my daughters will read. Shaiken writes cleanly and does well at keeping the social narrative at the forefront without slowing down the pace. He even made me feel a little sorry for the antagonist, which is a testament to his skill. Very well done, and very highly recommended.