Frenchmen and Long Knives

Fiction - Historical - Event/Era
414 Pages
Reviewed on 04/16/2017
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Joel R. Dennstedt for Readers' Favorite

Geoff Baggett’s quickly growing series about patriots of the American Revolution is rapidly becoming an award-worthy and highly popular contribution to historical fiction centered on this crucial moment in world history. Frenchman and Long Knives is the third installment in his series, and the best so far. Concentrating on a theater of war much removed from the east coast colonies, and focusing on the role of French immigrant settlers in the Illinois territory - a destination sought by many but reached only after a long and dangerous, highly arduous boat journey up the Mississippi River, subject to the powerful whims of unpredictable and deadly weather, Indian attacks, and unexpectedly ruthless encounters with an existing British military presence – we follow one family in particular, headed by Pierre Grimard, as they find themselves reluctant but necessary participants in a brutal fight for freedom.

Geoff Baggett’s writing style, as exemplified to perfection in Frenchmen and Long Knives, employs a superior knowledge of historical events, meticulously researched forays into personal ancestry to find his fascinating main characters, an ineffable ability to plot and create dialogue, and a descriptive technique that makes history come vividly alive, all the while engaging the avid reader in a story so compelling, so urgent, and paced so marvelously well that he cannot help but find himself a silent yet willing participant in the breathtaking events as they unfold. This third book in a thankfully continuing series matches the earlier books for unerring quality, but exceeds their proven ability to induce an adrenaline rush of heart-pounding, breathless anticipation in the reader for what comes next. Geoff Baggett has outdone himself with this one.

Rabia Tanveer

Frenchmen and Long Knives by Geoff Baggett is a novel that anyone who loves adventure, action, historical fiction and well-rounded characters will appreciate. This novel is not just about one single character; it is about family, friends and freedom. These three Fs are the main theme of the novel as well, so you can prepare yourself for a powerful story that will grip your heart, mind, body and soul.

Pierre Grimard came to America with the hopes of finding a family and a future where he could be the man he wants to be. He left France ten years ago, and now he has a wife whom he loves and children that he adores; he is living a peaceful and successful life. However, that peace is shattered in 1778 when American Revolution rebels and the armies of Great Britain started a devastating fight. In this tussle between two strong sides, Pierre and his people are suffering. They have pledged their allegiance to protect the land that they call home. But when they have an enemy so powerful, how can they fight back and keep their nation alive?

Frenchmen and Long Knives by Geoff Baggett is a compelling novel that will make you feel love for your country and the men and women who fight for it. I loved the patriotism and the love Pierre had for his people. It just shows that you don’t have to be born in a country to be able to feel like you belong there. I loved the way Geoff portrayed the Frenchmen and the locals, and how they lived in peace and with a sense of family. This is how a small town community is and how they band together in the times of sorrow and times of peace. This is truly a wonderful novel. Truly brilliant!

Christian Sia

In Geoff Baggett’s historical novel, Frenchmen and Long Knives, readers meet Pierre Grimard, a young Frenchman who travels to America to start a new life in the French settlements along the Illinois frontier. Hard-working and focused, Pierre builds a lucrative business, and marries a beautiful woman who gives him many children. It’s his dream life and things couldn’t be better, so he thinks. But things suddenly change with the war between the rebels of the American Revolution and the British in 1778, taking place in the very area where he’s chose to settle. Readers are immersed in a story that is filled with action as the French settlers take up arms to defend Virginia.

When I read historical fiction, I want to be transported to the period setting. In other words, I want to feel the history and Geoff Baggett succeeded in making me feel it in very powerful ways. The characters are awesome and from the very first page of this wonderful read, the reader is already introduced to the protagonist. The writing is wonderful, crisp, and loaded with vivid descriptions. The dialogue comes across very naturally and it is also revealing of the characters. Frenchmen and Long Knives took me by surprise because I was reading this author's work for the first time, but I wasn’t disappointed. The setting was awesome, the characters incredibly believable, the plot well-paced, and the writing great. There is a lot in this book for fans of historical fiction. It will entertain them, but most importantly, it will recreate history for them.


I’ve very recently discovered Geoff Baggett and his series of books, and let me tell you, it’s pretty easy to become a fan. There is quite a bit to love about his work, and “Frenchmen and Long Knives” is no exception.

In this tale of the American Revolution, Mr. Baggett tackles a relatively obscure corner of the conflict: The Battle of Vincennes. This relatively unknown yet fascinating battle took place in present-day Indiana, and reinforced a key facet of the revolution: Our French allies were critical.

What really drives home Mr. Baggett’s passion is he is writing about his family’s forebears, and the results are terrific. The saga follows Pierre Grimand’s remarkable journey from France to a perilous Caribbean adventure, then to New Orleans, and then north to Illinois territory. The prose is crisp and error-free, and the history is delightfully accurate. It is easy to cheer on the heroes, and Mr. Baggett’s villains will earn your contempt. Additionally, the book cover, like all of Mr. Baggett’s covers, is magnificent.

If I had to criticize, I think much of the dialogue is a little polarizing, especially early in the book. One of the challenges of historical fiction is finding the right tone to convey the nuances of the culture and era. How should an author portray Frenchmen conversing approximately 250 years ago? Mr. Baggett utilizes a very formal mode of speech generally free of contractions, slang, and profanity. Some will find this dialogue to be slightly wooden at times, but I think it was very effective in successfully depicting the culture and era.

Another thing to love about this book is that although there are episodes of sex and violence, the book is never gratuitous or offensive. This is very welcome in a book that educates as well as informs. I think my favorite part of the book might have been the courtship of Genevieve.

Bottom line, this is some terrific historical fiction. “Frenchmen and Long Knives” brings an obscure but critical conflict to life in a compelling manner, and any fan of historical fiction should relish the “Patriots of the American Revolution” series.