Adolf Verlof runs a sex shop in 1880’s London, but his real profession is even shadier. He’s a so-called "agent provocateur" for the Embassy, whose mission it is to infiltrate and spy on a relatively harmless group of anarchists. His employers are impatiently waiting for the group to do something radical enough that they can use it as an excuse to harden their actions against the many socialist and anarchistic groups that are sprouting up around the country. To move things along, they order Verlof to get the group to plant a bomb at Greenwich Observatory, a place that symboles world order.
Joseph Conrad (1857-1924) was a Polish-born author who left Poland in his teens to avoid enlistment in the Russian Army. He learned English aboard British ships and started writing in that language after settling in England. His most famous novel is "Heart of Darkness" (1899), which was inspired by his experiences on the open sea.