According to the history books, Lewis (of Lewis and Clark fame) was shot to death at a Tennessee tavern on his way to Washington to protest the post-Jefferson government's failure to honor his expense vouchers. Here, historical novelist Burns (Roman Nights, Roman Shadows) attributes the case for suicide to three wildly disparate accounts that Betsy Grinder, the tavernkeeper's wife, gave to Major James Neelly--and sets out real-life ornithologist Alexander Wilson, a friend of Lewis's, and foppish fictional narrator Captain Harrison Hull to unearth the truth. Both in Tennessee and in St. Louis, Wilson and Hull find a miasma of political chicanery, lies, and intrigue just as thick as you'd expect from a modern political murder, and they predictably tie Lewis's death into the moneyed double-dealing of the Missouri Fur Company. And that's not all: there'll be time out, too, for some anti-slavery gentility and the War of 1812. Lively and readable, but overlong (even at its length), and not unusually compelling.