The overpopulation of Victorian London sees rapid increase in poverty, famine and crime, and spear-heading the violent Whitechapel underworld is one Alice McKenzie, chairman of the Working Girls Union. Part prostitution guild, part crime circuit, Alice sends her loyal henchman Elgie Piddlebottom to oversee a shady delivery at a Thames dock. Enraged and guilt-ridden at the contents of the delivery , things go from bad to worse for the alcoholic dwarf as it is revealed that Chelsea Grinn – an almost immortal psychotic aristocrat – has escaped from deportation to Australia and is out for his blood, and his ex-boss has employed a cadre of Russian mafiosos to prevent him from causing any more damage. This book collects the first chapter of Chimneyspeak, and includes two pages of bonus content regarding the process of creating it’s unique cast of characters.
The world of Chimneyspeak is filled with hundreds of tales and adventures, told through short stories called “penny dreadfuls”. In “Alice”, the head of the Working Girls Union has to interview the new hire, calling upon the old memories of her first job application. In “Saloon”, Chelsea Grinn follows her dwarfish target to Texas, engaging in the local culture along the way. In “Suka”, Alina Perovskaya recalls her life before setting foot in London, and how she went from terrorist leader to the world’s first Russian mafia boss. “Blue” finds Chelsea off the coast of Australia, where some whalers are found using unconventional methods for their work. Finally, “Sovereign” , tells the story of how Elgie first came to work for Alice and the Working Girls.