London, 1852: the world's capital city of crime; a city where murder and hangings are public entertainment, where reporters and balladeers vie with one another to be first to the next grisly, exclusive revelation.
Among the panoply of killers awaiting execution is Chokee Bill, whose stranglings have set the capital abuzz.
One of the balladeers, Henry Owler, is determined to extract a true confession from the killer.
However, Chokee Bill claims he is innocent and that the real Fiend is still on the loose.
Owler, enlists the help of one of London's leading investigative journalists, Edmund Whitty of the Falcon, to help him to discover the real murderer before he strikes again.
But fate has some other twists in store. The killer is closer than either one expects, close enough to touch in the fog bound streets.
Is he a wraith of the imagination? Or is he the nightmare the public have dreamed and now made all too real?
Is he The Fiend in Human Form?