The Mysterious Death of Meriwether Lewis

Ron Burns, Author St. Martin's Press $18.95 (242p) ISBN 978-0-312-09347-1
Using fiction to examine real-life questions surrounding the 1809 death of the noted politician and explorer (one-half of Lewis & Clark), Burns ( Roman Nights ) comes up with a plausible solution to the mystery of what one character describes as ``the only two-shot suicide in history.'' Lewis, governor of the Territory of Upper Louisiana, supposedly killed himself in Grinder's Stand, Tenn., but two of his friends, naturalists Harrison Hull and Alexander Wilson, are convinced that he was murdered and set out to prove it. In Grinder's Stand they hear new accounts of Lewis's death that support their hunch. When they reach the territorial capital of St. Louis, they discover that men who know too much about their friend's past are likely to end up dead themselves. Among the historical suspects the author fingers are Frederick Bates, Lewis's power-hungry successor to the office of governor, and General James Wilkinson, an associate of Aaron Burr. Intricate layers of wrongdoing in the period's wide-open fur trade provide a possible motive. This elegant, slim mystery satisfies modern expectations of conspiracy in the highest places of power. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 08/02/1993
Release date: 08/01/1993
Genre: Fiction
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