The Exploits of Brigadier Gerard (review 4 march 1896)
From The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia
Not since the earlier Sherlock Holmes stories has Mr. Conan Doyle given us anything so good as "The Exploits of Brigadier Gerard" (Newnes). Others may quote "The White Company" as the best of his adventure books, but these new tales impress me with a greater sense of their writer's resource and invention. They are weak, as "The Refugees" was weak, only when he brings on the scene great personages out of history, except Napoleon, of whom he gives very effective and even probable pictures. Talleyrand and Wellington and the poet Kilmer are all dummies, and, indeed, the minor characters, even the vain and valorous brigadier himself, are not always very lifelike. But the adventures their creator invents for them are admirable, a wild dance of desperate daring, romance, bravado, and miracles of skill and strength. "How the Brigadier slew the Brothers of Ajaccio" and "How the Brigadier held the King" are probably the best. The one is a wild invention about a plot against the Emperor by two members of a secret society; they meet him by night in the Forest of Fontainebleau, and by his arrangement meet Gerard, too, to their disadvantage. The tale is worthy of its romantic background, but it is not no thrilling as the other that describes the game of écarte played by the brigadier with the young English officer, their stake the custody of each other's person, the notable game which was interrupted by the great Duke himself. The Napoleon of the stories is the imposing and much-loved Napoleon of Berenger's songs, probably the real Napoleon of his soldiers, if not of his Ministers.