The system and method of the present invention provides for recovery from failure of a distributed processing system process designated as a master process for at least one shared resource. The system of the invention provides for detection of the failure by one or more of the shadow processes. The detecting process tests to determine whether it has the shared write lock managed by the master process. If it does, it becomes the master process. If not, it determines from the shared control file which process holds the write lock and it communicates to that process a request to assume master process responsibilities.