Double Dutchess

Fergie

Why there hasn’t been more Fergie released since her solo debut (2006’s gazillion-selling The Dutchess) probably comes down to family commitments. That’s a shame, because her vocal talents are many. She can rough-ride hip-hop’s rhythms, manipulate the nuances of glossy R&B balladry, and belt out grand rockers with power and emotion.

Voices like that are few and far between, so Double Dutchess is a welcome return. A strange one, too, considering this is Fergie’s first album devoid of Black Eyed Peas boss will.i.am’s compositional touch (he does share production credits on several tracks).

Sure, it shares similarities to Dutchess #1, and feels dated in spots. L.A. Love (La La) with rapper YG is a London Bridge retread complete with phony foreign accents. The acoustic strum of Save It Till Morning copies the shimmering blueprint of Ferg’s Big Girls Don’t Cry (Personal) to a T. The femme-braggadocious M.I.L.F.$. is too conscious in its pursuit of old-school hip-hop, as is You Already Know.

Yet, those tracks sound great, with the gooey, gauzy new wave of Hungry (sampling Dead Can Dance, no less), the torrid, trop-house Enchante (Carine), and the Jamaican-inspired Love Is Blind all giving Fergie the necessary wind (and unique musicality) for her breezy, buoyant voice.

— A.D. Amorosi

Philadelphia Inquirer

Don’t Let Go

Harlan Coben

A New Jersey detective finds himself still haunted by events that occurred 15 years earlier in Harlan Coben’s Don’t Let Go.

Napoleon “Nap” Dumas works for the police along with discreetly conducting vigilante justice against men who abuse women. One day, two police officers arrive with news. A fingerprint and DNA from years ago has come back with a hit at the scene of a police officer’s shooting. The DNA matches his girlfriend who mysteriously disappeared 15 years earlier, shortly after the death of his twin brother and his brother’s girlfriend. Nap has questioned everything about that fateful night.

He investigates her sudden reappearance, along with her involvement in a police officer’s murder, leading down a rabbit hole that will cause him to lose trust in everyone he loves.

Coben tells the story from Nap’s point of view, so following the mental steps he takes to find the truth adds to both the readability and the puzzlement. The other characters have always assumed that Nap knew the truth but was in denial. Readers know that is not the case.

The likability of Nap is paramount, and even though he sometimes steps a bit outside the law, he is endearing and sometimes quite witty. Coben is the master of these types of characters while exposing the hidden layers of suburbia.

There are a few elements that don’t make sense, but it doesn’t matter. This is all about Nap and his quest.

— Jeff Ayers

Associated Press