|“||People will give a great deal to a starving child. But what will they give to the same child, missing a leg?||„|
|~ James Grimly's evil plan|
Before the novel, James Grimly has been making it his hobby to abduct children and "adjust" them which means making them look hideous or deformed by cutting off parts of their limbs and leaving them miserable and wretched. Such barbaric practices really did happen in the Elizabethan period and James Grimly really did actually exist, he was one of many evil people profiting from childrens' misery yet he was more calculating, greedy and organized, he had a whole organization of people working with him. Belter and Snivel, two other crooks, were his minions.
James Grimly had regular encounters and confrontations with Moll Cutpurse who believed he was evil, and he was distorting London's reputation. Moll threatened James with imprisonment or execution if he didn't give up his evil ways.
James Grimly was hanging out at St Pauls one day when he saw Thomas Falconer, a young orphan, whom he knew was not native to London and a foreigner or non-resident. James approached Thomas and offered him a business. Grimly seemed creepy to Thomas, and he refused, noting that he wore rat fur on his cloak. But then, Gamaliel Ratsey, the famous thief who had been sent to murder Thomas, entered the Cathedral, and Thomas, knowing a worse danger, approached Grimly. Grimly was pleased that the boy accepted, and he took him to a shady, hostile area of London where he strapped Thomas to a chair in the middle of the yard and called Belter and Snivel to make preparations for "adjusting" him. Grimly suggested removing Thomas' arm and leg, but Belter said they'd already done one, so Grimly said just the arms. He commented Thomas was very handsome and it'd be a shame to ruin his looks. Then Grimly was raising his machete, but Moll interrupted him, barging in and saving Thomas, telling Grimly how he never had any morals.
Later, Grimly was arrested by police for child abuse and taken to Newgate Prison where he was sentenced to be executed shortly after Thomas' failed execution, wherein the Queen saved Thomas.
- Interestingly, Horowitz uses "adjustment" in The Power of Five book series when the Old Ones announce their intention of converting their highest servants into disfigured soldiers, using the term in the exact same way Grimly uses it