Dead Man’s Hammer

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Deanna was just another third-rate colony in the Terran Empire – and it was pretty much as boring a lump of rock as could be expected. That is, until Gary Beck, aka ‘Beck the Badfeller’ ran over an obsidian crow with his jeepo on the highway to San Fedora and didn’t have a spare tire. Things pretty much went downhill from there.

An assassin had come to Atro City, an assassin with a score to settle. She was refined and pretty – but as poets might say, beauty can be deceiving – and the same poets who described Helen of Troy as the face that launched a thousand ships, might have written about Villainessa Tittle as the bitch that sank them.

As an assassin, she was the worst kind: she was absolutely terrifying, she took pride in her work, enjoyed what she did for a living – and above all, she was bloody good at it – and this time unfortunately, it was absolutely 100 percent personal.

Beck the Badfeller – Deanna’s most famous bounty hunter, was dead – and it was up to Cindy-Mei Winter, Sheriff Peg, Deputy Mike, Fred the Arborian – and Gary Beck himself – to solve it.

“As the Quantum series unfolds, it grows more and more impressive. Dead Mans Hammer is proof that Christina Engela can build an established world and insert so many genres into it along with retaining a unique style of writing that not only tributes her influences but has a way of confiding in readers. Throughout Engela’s writing style naturally flows and is fun to read. 5 Stars” – Lee Hall, UK writer & reviewer.

Dead Man’s Hammer” is the third title in the Quantum Series by Christina Engela.


  • Published: March 16, 2019
  • Words: 50,028.
  • Pages: 164 pages (6×9 format paperback)
  • Duration: (to be announced) min (eBook narrated by (to be announced))

Synopsis: [Spoiler Alert]

An assassin’s come to Deanna – one of the very best in her field… and she’s on the clock.

Gary Beck a.k.a. Beck the Badfeller is one of Deanna’s most famous sons – his reputation as a bounty hunter is that he’s so good at his job, he could find the missing day in a leap year! His reputation is well-deserved too. Beck always gets his man – even that one time when his man turned out to be a woman. He’s met someone special – Cindy-Mei Winter – and even though it was a little bit of a surprise when she disclosed the fact that she’s transgender to him, things have been working out really, really well between them.

Then one Saturday morning, Gary Beck goes out on a case and doesn’t come back – and his body is found the next morning at the side of the highway between Atro City and San Fedora. Gary Beck’s been murdered – and in so brutal and violent a way that even the cops are shocked.

In the meantime, Cindy-Mei is oblivious to Gary’s fate and goes about her usual routine. On Saturday morning, she socializes with one of her new friends on Deanna. Since arriving on the planet, she and Gary have become firm friends with the Grauffis sisters, and she meets the younger sibling, Danielle for a morning coffee.

On Sunday morning, Sheriff Peggy-Ann Muller finds out about Gary’s death. Peg, for whom Gary had been a longtime friend, takes his death as an immense shock – and ever since he’d become involved romantically with Cindy-Mei, she’d been distant and resentful towards Mei for coming between her and Gary. Now that he’s been killed, Peg pities Mei and decides to notify her in person.

The traumatized Mei asks to see his body, and Peg obliges in person, and drives her out to San Fedora in her police jeepo. Once there, Mei views the body – and identifies patterns in the wounds inflicted to his body as being made by hands, or more specifically, by sharp implements attached to the tips of the fingers on those hands. This is a telling clue for Mei – who immediately recognizes it. It means she knows exactly who the killer is!


Gary Beck, a.k.a. Beck the Badfeller.

Devastated by the loss of Gary, and in such a terribly cruel manner, Cindy-Mei – a former C.I.A. (Colonial Intelligence Agency) agent – heads back for home. Peg drives her back to her apartment and the two have a sharing connecting moment along the way.

In the meantime, a very rich and powerful man hosting a very exclusive business party in his penthouse suite apartment in the center of Atro City, discovers that his very tight security is simply not tight enough. The assassin he hired anonymously on the Interweb has invited herself to his event – a masked ball of sorts – and introduces herself to him as Miss – er, Smith – and leaves Bartholomew Farrow in no doubt at all that he’d better not treat her services lightly. Her job on Deanna is clearly not over yet – and she expresses wonder at how her work could somehow bring her back into contact with someone from her past. Villainessa Tittel has unfinished business with Cindy-Mei.

Alone at home, Mei – who is all but crippled by the grief of losing Gary Beck, the love of her life, in so cruel a manner – goes dark, retreating deep into herself in order to bring Tittel’s macabre and bloody romp through Atro City to a speedy end – even if it kills her. She resolves to find justice for Gary, to bring Villainessa Tittel to justice – or to wreak vengeance upon this shadow from her past – and to assist Peg with the case in the process.

Peg does what she can to catch the killer, to support the grieving Mei – while also striving to keep her out of trouble! Tittel, meanwhile, seems set on making the most of every advantage she has. She wages a campaign of psychological torture against Mei, hurting those she loves most first, which explains the death of Gary Beck. Mei’s young friend Danielle is abducted and the assassin makes finding and rescuing her exceedingly difficult.

In spite of everything Peg and Mei do, Villainessa Tittel remains one step ahead of them. Peg becomes concerned that Mei is on the verge of losing her cool and getting both of them in trouble, and shuts her out of the investigation. Finally, the SODs (Sheriffs Office Deputies) locate the missing Danielle Grauffis – where she’d been tied to a bed in an abandoned building for several days. Despondent, Peg retreats home and commiserates with her friend Fred. Fred’s an Arborian – a walking, talking plant life-form from a distant planet known for having forests that migrate with the seasons! Fred has taken up residence in her lounge – after all, when he’s not working as a security guard at the mall, he doesn’t take up much space! Fred goes to stand guard over Danielle in her hospital room

Then, just as things appear darkest, there’s a surprise in store.

Gary Beck has not been killed after all! Well, that is to say, he was – but since Gary Beck had made the acquaintance of Johnathan Scrooby, nothing seemed seriously set in stone anymore – not even something as substantial and leaden as mortality, and even death seemed to be no more than a temporary inconvenience! The Time Agent has intervened and copied Gary out of the timeline just moments before death, ensuring that he arrives at the Time Saving Agency alive – and completely naked!

Scrooby’s intervention makes it possible for Beck and Scrooby to brainstorm (over Triple Brainscrew Skullhammers at the Time Saving Agency diner) how to save Mei, dispose of the assassin, and make Deanna a safe place again. After some head-scratching and a couple more headaches resulting from Scrooby’s attempts to explain time-travel quantum mechanics to the bounty hunter, Gary and Scrooby get a handle on the situation and decide what to do.

Mei has struck a deal with the assassin – Villannessa Tittel won’t harm any more of her friends, if she comes to meet her face to face in an abandoned warehouse. It will end with her. Mei also has a contingency plan – she knows she’s going to die, but intends to take the assassin with her. The confrontation goes pretty much as Mei expects it to – badly. As capable a fighter as Mei is, she’s a poor match for the assassin. When Gary Beck returns to the timeline, it is – well, just in time.

With the assassin dead – it being something of a combined effort, and Gary Beck seemingly back from the dead – the relief for Mei and Peg is enormous. Be that all as pleasant as it may, Gary Beck now has some explaining to do – and somehow, his attempts to dismiss evidence, such as his body being found at the crime scene, identified at the morgue, and in the photos emailed to Sheriff Muller don’t really hold water. Apparently the claim that he’d faked all that using holograms isn’t too believable, but it will have to do until he can think of something better.

Meanwhile, at the Time Saving Agency, Scrooby ensures that inconvenient items such as the duplicate body of Deanna’s famous bounty hunter are deleted – and quietly vanish from the San Fedora mortuary, much to the puzzlement of the staff.

For Scrooby, his intervention is an act of friendship and in a sense also the repayment of a debt. For Beck, it’s an eye-opener to be able to come so close to death – again – and then to be able to return to his life and his loved-one in spite of that. Once Mei’s superficial injuries have been treated at Atro City General Hospital, they return to her apartment and get reacquainted.

Fred – being a plant-like alien who often walks about carrying his own pot – has the uncanny ability to blend into his surroundings. He’s not above being an instrument of justice – and occasionally, vengeance – and pays Bartholomew Farrow a courtesy call to tie off a loose end, which makes Peg’s day as she reads the crime report in her email the next morning.

What Comes Next?

The characters in “Black Sunrise”, “The Time Saving Agency” and “Dead Man’s Hammer” continue their adventures in the next book in the Quantum Series: “Loderunner”.

The History of “Dead Man’s Hammer”

When I first started writing Quantum, I wrote the original first three books in the same year! No, it wasn’t deliberate… I mean, what kind of lunatic sits down one bright sunny day and thinks, “Yes, I think I feel like writing three books simultaneously”? It just worked out that way!

To explain it simply, I started out writing “Black Sunrise“, and it just got longer, and longer, and more complex, and midway through I decided to split it down the middle and turn the next part into book 2 “The Time Saving Agency” … and another part, which became “Dead Man’s Hammer“… and then I worked on them all simultaneously! Yes, it was taxing just getting those first three drafts together, but over the years they’ve been refined really well!

Around 2005, I published the first version of “Dead Man’s Hammer” on Lulu. I updated and refined it and its cover again in 2007.

In 2014, I got picked up by a small press, which contracted me for all my titles, and to comply I took everything down from Lulu and waited for the publisher to hold up its end of the bargain. It was a long wait for a train that never came; and by May 2016 the company essentially frog-marched every one of their authors who weren’t “pure horror writers” out the door of their stable, leaving me back at Square One with my head spinning.

Upon my immediate return to self-publishing in May 2016, I re-released the then complete four titles in Quantum, including “Dead Man’s Hammer“.  I made good use of the opportunity to edit, format and to create new covers.

In 2019, I revised all the Quantum Series books and redesigned all the covers so they all looked like part of the same series – and unique from Galaxii! At any rate, I feel the current series of covers does the story justice!


Further Reading:




Suspense, drama and modern issues all of which are tackled in a fun but important way…

“As the Quantum series unfolds, it grows more and more impressive. Dead Man’s Hammer is proof that Christina Engela can build an established world and insert so many genres into it along with retaining a unique style of writing that not only tributes her influences but has a way of confiding in readers.

We are back on the quirky planet of ‘Deanna’, home of the rather ominous sounding ‘obsidian crows’ and more specifically ‘Atro City’ – a place this time around we get to know a bit better while referencing the previous stories of the ‘Quantum series’.

Someone is targeting my favourite characters; an assassin enigmatically named ‘Villainessa Tittel’ who is after one person in particular – series regular, Cindy-Mei Winter. ‘Villainessa’ proves to be quite a force in her field of work and does everything in her power to draw in ‘Mei’, with whom she shares an interesting history. It is in this history where readers will find the true message and meaning of the story. While ‘Mei’ has moved forward in life she must face what is essentially a demon of her past and a life before she became ‘Cindy’ and it’s trying to torment her! This is a massive nod to modern issues that many people face in the transgender community and in life as a whole, sometimes it isn’t about who you were, but what you are now and what you truly feel. This concept is galvanized by another character ‘Danielle Grauffis’ who is in a process of transition in her young life compared to ‘Mei’.

Of course other returning regulars such as ‘Beck the Badfeller’ – who we get a name origins story from and special branch ‘Fred’ the Arborian make appearances along with an extended appearance from ‘Sheriff Peggy-Ann Muller’ who makes quite a team with ‘Mei’ – and this is where a crime mystery element of the story truly shines.

Suspense, drama and even tragedy are ways that I would describe the journey this story represents, not to mention that crime-mystery theme along with some more important issues that these books are not afraid to tackle; as much as this sounds heavy, it’s a fun read! Throughout Engela’s writing style naturally flows and is fun to read.

Revenge is a dish best served cold, you could even say as cold as ‘Winter’ – but that’s only something ‘I heard through the grape vine…

5 Stars” – Lee Hall, UK writer & reviewer, September 9, 2019.

Reader’s Comments:


If you would like to know more about Christina Engela and her writing, please feel free to browse her website.

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All material copyright © Christina Engela, 2021.

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