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Released: February 2015
ISBN: 9781310634536
ASIN: B00SU4OOC8
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SERVICE BEFORE SELF
Author: Tegon Maus
Length: Novel
Genre: Thriller
Price: $3.99

A recent transplant to Southern California, Toby Grant has landed his dream job. He’s a service tech for Handy Dandy Services—the premier handyman service in the southland.

Things don’t go well for Toby on the first day when he is teamed up with Ryan Burnell, a twenty year veteran of Handy Dandy. Toby quickly learns the hardships of being Ryan’s partner, and finds himself in one uncomfortable situation after another.

In an effort to understand his new partner, Toby accidently uncovers Ryan’s past involvement with drugs, burglary, and murder. He also learns about Ryan’s last partner of five years—Delsin Honaw—who had been murdered…stabbed twenty-seven times.

Haunted by one misunderstanding after another, Toby learns the true meaning of the company’s motto—“Service before Self.”

Excerpt
If you're like me and I have every reason to assume that you are, then every day is the same. Like me, you get up at the same time, leave for work, drive the same roads, eat the same things day in and day out.

Now, some would call it a rut, some would simply call it life. But the funny thing about life is every once in a while the universe, or God, or whoever it is that rolls the dice, gives us a little bump and we find ourselves on a whole new road. A road we didn't know existed, and then, of all things, that rut doesn't seem so bad after all.

"Ryan," he shouted, waving.

From across the room, a large, Hispanic man with a barrel chest, heavily muscled arms and an intimidating manner came our way. He stood a few inches taller than me, with broad shoulders, dark long hair pulled into a tail, tied at the back of his head. His face was unshaven, giving him a slightly unprofessional appearance.

"Ryan Burnell...meet your new partner...Toby Grant," he said, pointing at me.

"I don't need a partner," Ryan said gruffly, turning to walk away.

"Hey. I don't remember giving you a choice, Burnell," Conway yelled, suddenly angry.

"Give ‘em to Hicks. I don't need a partner," he said over his shoulder.

“Alright," Conway snapped. "I'll drop your suspension."

Whatever that meant, it stopped Ryan cold. He was still facing away from us. The fingers of his right hand wiggled a little as if they suddenly itched.

"And Kenyon?" Ryan asked without turning around.

"Fuck, Burnell, I can't..." Conway started.

Ryan simply flipped the man off and began to walk away again.

"Alright, alright, I'll drop her suspension as well, but so help me God..." Conway threatened.

"Yeah, yeah. It won't happen again," Ryan said.

"Damn well better not," Conway threatened, sticking a thick finger in the man's face. "Get your packet and roll."

"Where we going today?" Ryan asked, taking a large envelope Conway slid toward him.

I looked to one of them for an explanation, but received none.

"Ah, fuck no. Come on boss cut me a little slack," Ryan moaned.

"Sorry pal, I don't set the jobs. I just hand them out."

"Come on. Switch me. I can't take a newbie to the West side on his first day," Ryan pleaded.

"I hear you, but who would I send if not you?" Conway asked shrugging.

"God damn it, put them off...reschedule."

"Can't, I already tried," Conway countered.

"Fuck Andy, I'm begging you."

"Get rolling. You got an 8:00 am across town," Conway said, jerking a thumb in the direction of the truck bay.

"God damn it," Ryan shouted, grabbing the envelope, storming off.

I stood there, uncertain what I should do.

"You need a special invitation? Move your ass," Conway barked pointing toward Ryan.

I ran as quickly as I could to catch up.

"Keep him safe, Burnell, I mean it," Conway shouted after us.

Ryan flipped the man off again without breaking stride or turning to face him.

"Where we going?" I asked as I caught up with him.

"Rule number one, don't talk to me, until spoken to. You're only with me for the day, then you're Johnson's problem," he said harshly.

"Beg your pardon?" I gasped.

"What are you? Stupid? I said don't talk to me, got it?" he said, jabbing a finger into my chest.

"Got it," I snapped in return. "What an ass," I said softly to myself as he turned and walked away.

What the reviewers are saying
Blue Collar Morals
I loved this book. I can't remember the last time I had this much fun reading a novel. It's not highbrow literature, but it's not trying to be. Service Before Self is a vacation novel, a beach read novel, an escape novel. And as such, it's a wonderful read. Reading the description, you'd be tempted to write this book off as some kind of working class thriller, and there is a point late in the book where that kind of applies. But for the bulk of the story, Maus has written a ball-bouncingly funny picaresque novel that hearkens back to the days of the adventure serial, when our earnest hero runs from one absurd, sometimes dangerous, situation straight into another even more absurd and possibly even more dangerous. And I can picture Maus sitting at his desk, cackling with glee as he asks himself what else he can subject his characters to, what batcrap insanity he can get away with next. ~ Jonathan, Amazon and Pomegranate Radio (listen to the reviewer review this book)

• • •

If you are having a bad day, if you hate your job, or even if you are just in a bad mood, you need to read this book. This book is fun to read, and I don’t see how anyone could read it without laughing at least once. I lost count of how many times I cracked up while reading this book. Service Before SelfToby Grant gets a job as a service technician with Handy Dandy Services, but this job turns out to be way more than he bargained for . . . The service calls they go on are extremely entertaining . . . Each service call after the first one is entertaining in its own way . . . This was a great story that never slowed down. It made me laugh, and its characters were some of the zaniest I’ve ever run across. The author’s descriptions of the utter grossness of the places they made service calls to made me laugh and cringe at the same time . . . If you like to laugh, you would really enjoy this book. An Amazon link to this book has been provided below in case you want to purchase it. ~ Lisa, Lisa's Writopia

• • •

A murder mystery generally isn’t something I’d expect to find funny, but this one provided me with a lot of opportunities to laugh. Mr. Maus has a unique sense of humor that worked really well with the tone of this story. His uncanny ability to draw out the humorous side in all kinds of unlikely scenarios is one of the biggest reasons why I get so excited when this author releases something new . . . Some of my favorite scenes in this book showed how the customers that Toby and his coworker visited were actually living. How people present themselves to the outside world doesn’t always match what is really going on their lives. The gap between that image and the reality of their private lives was a fascinating place to explore. If you haven’t had the pleasure of reading one of Mr. Maus’ books yet, Service before Self is a great place to start. If you’re already a fan of his work, I’d recommend it just as strongly. There’s something here for everyone! ~ Long and Short Reviews

• • •

Suspense and laughs!
Tegon Maus' "Service Before Self" is a book that has it all, from humor to suspense to literary-fiction-esque storytelling . . . This is a book that will make you laugh while keeping you fascinated with suspense at the same time. Maus does an excellent job of capturing the excitement of a new job, and it's engaging to see the world through Toby's eyes as he learns more about Ryan and the company. A recommended read! ~ J Lonson, Amazon

• • •

I loved, "Service Before Self." The plot was quite intense and I loved how Toby's was able to decipher the haunting facts surrounding his dream job. The ebook covers themes such as mystery, comedy, and adventure. The biggest thing I took away from the novel (besides an entertaining story) was a great commentary regarding the nature of humanity. The book is filled with a wide-range of people that Toby has to deal with. I will definitely check out more of the author's work. He is quite a talented writer. I highly recommend this to anybody who enjoys a good working-class drama. ~ Yvette, Amazon

• • •

Would read more by this author
This book is quite entertaining. I would recommend it just for the humor alone but it's much more than that. The story has depth beyond the surface. The characters are realistic in some ways, absurd in others, yet it's done to make a point or drive home a moment of truth. I have a feeling that I would like whatever this author writes even if it is a completely different type of story. Saying the book is populated with colorful characters would be an understatement. I found myself cringing a little in some of the chapters. The author doesn't shy away from descriptive details. Some of the scenes involve lifestyle choices that many would deem extreme. In contrast, the Handy Dandy men try to bring a little normality into these people's lives. Happy to give this book five stars and recommend it. Great story by a talented writer. ~ P Benson, Amazon

• • •

Off-Beat Plot and Characters
Fun read! Entertaining and off the beaten track. Great characters! Humor and pathos! Good writing! What more could a reader ask for? Highly recommended :-) ~Melinda Reynolds, Amazon

• • •

Very Good
Following Toby’s story was really fun and as he starts working for Handy Dandy Services, things can turn a little chaotic. These are servicemen who perform crucial services for people and the dynamic between Toby and Ryan was fun to read. A great insight into the life of handymen and their adventures have gotten me both laughing and aware of some really incredibly strange stuff. I would highly recommend this one. ~ Sarah P, Amazon

• • •

Easy and Entertaining!
Service before Self is an easy, entertaining read. I must admit that this is quite a funny book, and there were moments when I was just laughing out loud by myself--it's definitely rare for a book to have that kind of effect on me! Toby and Ryan are both realistic, believable, and multi-dimensional characters who are easy to understand and maybe even relate to--for that reason, I got invested in the book rather quickly and enjoyed myself the whole way through. A great read! ~ cc2015, Amazon

• • •

A Guide On How To Overcome The General Public Within The Workfield
No matter what career choice you pick, you're always going to come across co-workers or bosses who you just cannot stand. Tegon Maus however brings us a tale where a handy man confronts such a co-worker that probably no one has ever had before. If you have though, I suggest that you quit that job if you're still working with that person. A handyman named Toby gets a job at a place called Handy Dandy Services where there motto is the title of this book; "Service Before Self". He is partnered with Ryan who has been with the company for over twenty years and he has no problem at all giving the new guy the weirdest and most disgusting jobs ever (Nice welcome committee). As Toby works more with Ryan, he finds out that Ryan has a deeply troubled past that involves murder. But how does comedy fit in this plot? Tegon Maus does that tough job for us and believe me, he does a masterful job of blending in serious and funny scenes. Here, he takes a break from his sci-fi routine and gives us a nice black comedy. Once again, he gives us well developed characters and well written situations filled with comedy, suspense and misunderstandings. ~ Erik Nelson, Amazon

• • •

Excellent Source of Laughter Therapy!
'Service Before Self' had me in tears from laughing so loud. It is the funniest thriller I have ever read and I mean that in a very good way. In fact, if you happen to suffer from depression or just need some laughter therapy, I prescribe 'Service Before Self' to you. Highly recommended! ~ Teddy, Amazon

• • •

Fun light read
So I thought this was going to be a mystery or murder story and it ended up being hysterical. There is the mandatory gang references, a very strange love triangle thing, and a newbie who gets a shocking intro to life in LA. Definitely a good and quick read. ~ Dreamer 2229, Amazon

• • •

Great read
I found the writing to flow very well and the sequencing was great the two main characters were written deep enough so you really cared, I was cheering for Toby and Ryan . . . Give it a try it's realistic and laugh out loud funny at times. ~ CC Pen, Amazon

• • •

Wonderfully comedic read
Once again, Tegon Maus delivers a truly hilarious tale filled with mishaps galore. His characters are endearing, even Ryan, with his catch phrase, "Service before self". It soon becomes clear to the reader how important this slogan is, with the type of clientele with which they are working. The murder of Ryan's previous partner adds a unique twist to the story and adds intrigue. This is a real page turner that is impossible to put down until the book is finished. ~ Belinda Wilson, Amazon

• • •

A belated coming-of-age story
You think all that bullying, hazing, posturing, chest-beating and battle for dominance is over when you graduate high-school? Think again! For some people, adult life is one big smelly locker-room. Welcome to the world of Handy Dandy Services, where sweat, cigarette smoke and testosterone flow freely. The motto of the company is humorously pompous "Service Before Self", denoting self-sacrifice, even martyrdom. And sure enough, there is an element of martyrdom to what the employers . . . The author understands human nature keenly and bitterly. His characters are seemingly unsophisticated men, yet they make very astute observations about the human nature. Servicemen are the unsung heroes. They are perceived almost like inanimate objects by those who use their services, breathing robots. "If you're in a nice house and looking around they think you're casing the place. If you're in a crap house, they think you're looking down your nose at them. Never give them the chance to think that. Never react to what you see, what you hear, what you smell." Ironically, for Toby, it becomes increasingly difficult not to react to his partner. Ryan becomes a source of fascination, frustration and terror for the young rookie. The novel was clearly written with deep knowledge of the handyman's mentality and the human nature in general. It's a disturbingly funny belated coming-of-age story. ~ Marina J Neary, Amazon

• • •

So funny!
The characters are so great. They include a genius hoarder, "naturalist" card playing senior citizens, hillbilly hand models, a homeless "Anastasia Romanov" and more. Ryan is a great character. I think the book was the perfect length, but it is a story you wish would go on and on. I definitely recommend this to all of you who need a laugh or ten! ~ Christy M., Amazon

• • •

A brilliantly entertaining story
This story is not only a very funny, if cringe worthy insight into the working day of company representatives, and what sometimes they see when entering other people’s homes; but also an extremely gripping thriller in parts as Ryan is pulled back, yet again, into the world of drugs he left behind five years previously. I thoroughly enjoyed reading every page of this story and would happily recommend it as a brilliantly entertaining book. ~ Susan Keefe, Amazon

 

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