Fresh Start

Fiction - Mystery - Legal
408 Pages
Reviewed on 09/23/2021
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

Fresh Start is a work of fiction in the legal mystery sub-genre, which was penned by author Mark Shaiken. Most suited to the adult reading audience, the novel is part of the 3J Mystery novel series and features bankruptcy lawyer Josephina Jillian Jones. 3J is called in this time to initially assist property developer Quincy Witherman, but her sharp senses begin to pick up red flags almost instantly. Stacy Milnes, Witherman’s banker, is also confident that something is up, and she and 3J soon find themselves uncovering a family legacy of shady dealings, hidden accounts, and felonies left, right, and center.

Author Mark Shaiken has crafted an intellectual work of genre fiction that skilfully blends the legal, mystery, thriller, and drama aspects together to form a deep and layered novel that is also smoothly penned and enjoyable to dive into. Fans of any of these genres will find satisfaction in the storytelling, with Shaiken’s keen eye for detail leaving no stone unturned and no question unanswered. Our protagonist, 3J, was erudite and clever but also penned with genuine emotion and concern, making her a well-rounded figure to lead the mystery without leaving the reader out of the loop. I also found the dialogues to be highly expressive and useful in terms of characterization and plot exposition. Despite not typically being into legal mysteries, the drama had me on the edge of my seat by the novel’s conclusion. Overall, I’d certainly recommend Fresh Start for any reader seeking a well-penned and deeply satisfying mystery tale.

Anne-Marie Reynolds

Fresh Start by Mark Shaiken is a legal mystery story. Quincy Witherspoon, a prominent developer, has followed his family’s long practice of putting their assets in Switzerland, away from the taxman. When his creditors come knocking at the door and bankruptcy is the only way to save his company, he hires a bankruptcy lawyer called Josephine Jillian Jones, better known as 3J. The problem is, Quincy has secrets – he never told the IRS about his Swiss assets, nor did he tell 3J, the bankruptcy court, even his bankers. All could see him do time in time in jail, but both 3J and Stacy Milnes, a so-called friend of Quincy’s and a banker, know something is badly wrong, and now Witherspoon is running. Can they catch him? Or will fate and family history intervene? Bankruptcy is supposed to give you a fresh start, but it doesn’t always work that way.

Fresh Start by Mark Shaiken is a well-written legal novel packed with action in a well-paced story. The constantly shifting perspectives between the main characters keep you on your toes and ensure you get every aspect of the story from all the different points of view. Mr. Shaiken explains the bankruptcy procedure very well and writes in a way that makes you feel part of the story. It starts as it means to go on, taking you on a twisting journey from the courtrooms in Kansas through the murky underworld of generational legacies. The characters are real people, developed well, and with plenty of background to help you learn who they are. This is a novel where the line between right and wrong is sometimes blurry, where the good guys might be the bad guys and vice versa – very much like real life, where perception plays a big role. A very enjoyable thriller; I'm looking forward to more 3J books.

Saifunnissa Hassam

Mark Shaiken's novel Fresh Start is a legal mystery about a bankruptcy case. Quincy Gunn Witherman is a savvy and successful real estate developer, originally from Philadelphia, now living in Kansas City, Missouri. His family has been in the real estate business since the 1700s. Quincy inherits assets hidden in a secret Swiss bank account, a practice started by an ancestor, Gunnther Witherman Jr., in the 1800s. Quincy owes $520 million in outstanding loans from various banks. He hires Josephina Jillian Jones, or 3J, a bankruptcy attorney and a partner in the Greene Madison law firm, to file for bankruptcy protection. He reveals nothing about his hidden Swiss bank account. But 3J has a gut feeling that something is amiss, a hunch shared by Stacy Milnes, Quincy's bank officer. As the bankruptcy court hearings begin, the story twists and the tension intensifies.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Mark Shaiken's Fresh Start for its compelling and unique characters and strong bankruptcy theme. I liked the character development through details of characters' professional and life journeys and how these relate to bankruptcy's financial and legal aspects. I thought the characters came vividly to life through the dialogues, the interpersonal dramas, and action both inside and outside the courtroom. I felt the story gained a great deal of depth by including the Witherman family history, revealing its strong grip on the character and decisions of Quincy Witherman, the real estate developer who files for bankruptcy. I liked the sharp contrasts among the characters, particularly 3J, Quincy's bankruptcy attorney, and Stacy Milnes, Quincy's bank officer. I could imagine the tension-filled drama in the courtroom scenes and video conferences. I was intrigued as I read on. Would Quincy get a bankruptcy discharge, a fresh start, or would the hidden assets come to light, unraveling his life? A gripping and thought-provoking bankruptcy legal mystery, well-crafted and well-written!