The opening scene of Maelstrom is set in Narrow Street in the Limehouse district of East London. Limehouse was an important port and trading centre in Elizabethan times and many immigrants settled in the area. Most notable of these were the Chinese who set up opium dens and established London's first Chinatown. They relocated to their current spot in Soho after Limehouse was badly bombed during the Blitz of World War II.
One of the buildings that survived was a pub on Narrow Street which used to be frequented by Charles Dickens during the first half of the nineteenth century. Go sit on the tiny back terrace of The Grapes and listen to the lap of the tide under your feet. You'll get a feel for the history of this area of East London.