The story is set in London in 1886 and deals with Mr Adolf Verloc and his work as a spy for an unnamed country (presumably Russia). The Secret Agent is one of Conrad's later political novels in which he moved away from his former tales of seafaring. The novel is dedicated to H. G. Wells and deals broadly with anarchism, espionage and terrorism. It also deals with exploitation of the vulnerable in Verloc's relationship with his brother-in-law Stevie, who has a learning difficulty. Conrad’s gloomy portrait of London depicted in the novel was influenced by Charles Dickens’ Bleak House.