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‘A 13-year-old girl sold for a fiver, a bobby out for revenge, a clutch of crusading reformers, two sensation-mongering reporters and the scandalous sexual preferences of the upper-classes – all are pivotal to Bridget O’Donnell’s Inspector Minahan Makes a Stand. The year is 1885… O’Donnell includes Mary Jeffries, the notorious madam and trafficker whose girls and boys catered for a ‘late night finish’ for such eminent gents as Leopold II of Belgium and ‘Dirty Bertie,’ later Edward VII. But she weaves in, too, the tribulations of Jeremiah Minahan, an Irish police inspector demoted for not being bent enough…. Using verbatim accounts and quoting court reports, O’Donnell captures all the colour of a Victorian melodrama. Here’s Minahan ‘nudging seven feet tall’ in his helmet; there the limping, raddled former procuress Rebecca Jarrett kitting out Eliza in a doxy’s outfit of purple dress and red feathered hat… it’s an enjoyable romp.’
Marianne Race, The Independent
‘Bridget O’Donnell’s first book is a powerfully researched, impressively detailed picture of 1880s’ London….O’Donnell has created a masterful jigsaw of lust, power, corruption and do-gooders driven by a variety of motives to do down the arrogant with appetites, as well as to protect working class girls duped and enticed into prostitution… Engagingly written, with a gripping plot, vivid sense of place and the age-old battle of (mainly) good versus evil, this non-fiction account has everything… The cast of characters includes cocky crone Jefferies and her coterie of girls in feathered hats and boys in patent shoes as well as aristocratic politicians with sordid secrets. [With] vividly drawn scenes, as wily as anything in Dickens….[this is] a kaleidoscope of human woe, politics, debauchery, crusading and social change, it’s the perfect autumn read.’ Catherine Jones, bookoxygen.com
‘So many 19th century true-crime sagas have been published in the past few years that it’s beginning to seem as if everyone who stole a carrot in Victorian London has had a book written about them. Amid this glut of antique villainy, Bridget O’Donnell has managed to find a piece of relatively unexplored territory — white slaving…. This is a riveting book, deeply shocking one moment, rich in absurdity the next. Seldom has the line between goodness and depravity seemed quite as narrow — and easily crossed — as it does here.’
John Preston, Daily Mail
‘O’Donnell vividly depicts a system of double standards in which much of the Establishment was implicated… She succeeds in dramatising the murkiness of the streets where respectable gentlemen can purchase ‘a packet’ of teenage virgins from the right madam with only a few days’ notice. The book also leaves you feeling that many of the men trying to ‘save’ these young prostitutes – were only marginally less screwed up about sex than the men frequenting the brothels.’
Bee Wilson, The Sunday Times
‘O’Donnell was a television director before she became an author and you can see her visual flair at work as she plunges into a late-Victorian, fog-bound London.’
Kathryn Hughes, Mail on Sunday
To buy the book now click here.
An Irish policeman exposes the trafficking of British girls abroad from London brothels and the princes, peers and politicians who pay for the trade. His actions raise the age of consent to sixteen, a law that remains to this day, but he loses everything. Ten years later he is accused of murder – while the politicians and peers still reign strong.
Inspector Minahan Makes a Stand is the true story of a man caught between the British Establishment, his Limerick soul and his secret rebel heart. A very Victorian scandal, but also a story for our times.
Inspector Minahan Makes a Stand was published in September 2012 by the London publishers Picador.
To read comments about Bridget’s other writing click here.