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Bird of Another Heaven

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In James D. Houston’s Bird of Another Heaven, Bay Area radio host Sheridan Brody is in a midlife rut. Then a woman named Rosa calls in claiming to be his grandmother and revealing that he’s the great-grandson of Nani Keala, mistress and confidante of Hawaii’s last king. Both the novel and Sheridan’s life gain momentum 80 pages in, when Rosa gives him Nani’s journals chronicling her years with the royal entourage. Seeking to solve a historical mystery, Sheridan tries to find a wax recording of the king’s last message before his untimely death in 1891. The novel, filled with real historical figures, richly reconceives the demise of the Hawaiian monarchy. B+