"in return for a shut mouth about a pie that had a finger in it"

Although the story is set later and in London, the reader may very well be reminded here of the Victorian melodrama 'Sweeney Todd'.  First published in a Penny Dreadful in 1846, it tells of a serial-killing barber who slits the throats of his customers and disposes of the bodies with his friend, Mrs Lovett, by baking them in pies.  If you've ever been curious about how one could possibly come up with such a plan, this song below from the 2007 film adaptation of the musical may enlighten.