A Day in The Life of Bertie Bigelow by Carolyn Wilkins

Melody for MurderMy name is Bertie Bigelow, and I am the choir director at Metro Community College. The school where I teach is located in an African-American neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago. I wear designer suits to work, keep my attitude professional, and try not to badmouth people – even when I know they deserve it. I’m determined to show my students that someone who grew up in the ‘hood can actually amount to something.

I am a curious person by nature – one of those dogged types that, when confronted with a problem, can’t rest until they’ve gotten to the heart of the matter. My late husband, Delroy Bigelow, used to joke that I was part Earth Mother, part Diva and part Bloodhound. My husband was a brilliant lawyer. So smart that here on the South Side, folks used to call him the “black Perry Mason.” Since Delroy died in a car crash last year, I’ve cried myself to sleep nearly every night.

My boss, Chancellor Humbert X. Grant, wants to fire me because my best student cussed out a prominent Chicago politician in the middle of last week’s Christmas concert. Why my student did this, I have no idea. But you’d best believe I intend to get to the bottom of it.

I’ve been pretty upset lately. My friend Ellen Simpson tells me I need to forget my troubles. As it happens, I’ve been invited to a fancy dress ball given by one of black Chicago’s fanciest social clubs. The man who’s invited me to go is nearly twice my age, an inveterate snob and a pompous bore. Still, Ellen thinks I should go.

“Get out and kick up your heels,” she tells me. “So what if he wears the ugliest toupee in the city? A date is a date.”

I suppose she’s right. I’ve got to start going out sooner or later. Anyway, what could possibly go wrong?


Melody For Murder is the first book in the Bertie Bigelow mystery series, published by Pen-L Publishing, June 2015.

When recently widowed college choir director Bertie Bigelow accepts a date with Judge Theophilous Green, she never imagines the civil rights pioneer and inveterate snob will be found shot to death the next morning. She’s even more surprised when her favorite student is arrested for the crime.

Bertie suspects that someone else in her tight-knit social circle is really the killer.

Is it hot-tempered Patrice Soule, voluptuous diva and recent winner of the Illinois Idol contest? Is it Charley Howard, the Hot Sauce King, a self-made millionaire with Mafia connections? Is it the mysterious Dr. Momolu Taylor? Newly arrived from Africa, he’s invented a new sex drug that’s got some powerful politicians feeling frisky. Could it be Alderman “Steady Freddy” Clark, corrupt South Side ward boss and would-be patron of the arts?

One thing is certain: Bertie Bigelow will need to keep her wits about her to avoid becoming the killer’s next victim.

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Meet the author
Carolyn Wilkins is a Professor of Ensembles at Berklee College of Music. She is the author of Melody For Murder, the first in a series of murder mysteries featuring Bertie Bigelow, an African American choir director on the South Side of Chicago. Mojo For Murder, the next book in this series, will be released by Pen-L Publishing in the fall of 2016.

Carolyn is also the author of They Raised Me Up: A Black Single Mother and the Women Who Inspired Her and Damn Near White: An African American Family’s Rise from Slavery to Bittersweet Success. Both books are available from the University of Missouri Press.

In addition, Carolyn is an accomplished jazz pianist, composer and vocalist whose performance experience includes radio and television appearances with her group SpiritJazz, a concert tour of South America as a Jazz Ambassador for the US State Department, performances with the Pittsburgh Symphony as a percussionist under Andre Previn, and shows featuring Melba Moore, Nancy Wilson and the Fifth Dimension.

For further information, visit Carolyn’s website: carolynwilkins.com, on Twitter, and on Facebook.

All comments are welcomed.

Giveaway: Carolyn is giving away one paperback book (US entries only, please) and one free download (open to everyone) of Melody to Murder to two lucky readers who write in and comment on this post. The giveaway will end August 29, 2016 at 12 AM (midnight) EST. Good luck everyone!

42 responses to “A Day in The Life of Bertie Bigelow by Carolyn Wilkins

  1. Doward Wilson

    Sounds like an interesting new new series & author. Can’t wait to read this one. Thanks Dru Ann for the great post.

  2. Another new series for my ever enlarging t-b-r list. Thanks Dru.

  3. Sounds like a great mystery, and different than any I’ve read before. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Peggy Hyndman

    Thank you for introducing me to another “new-to-me” author and series. Melody For Murder sounds great.

  5. Carolyn Wilkins

    Bertie is just tickled pink to be featured today! Thanks Dru.

  6. Another new author for me. Thanks for the chance to win.

  7. I would like to have a chance to read this new series. Thank you Dru and Carolyn for the giveaway.

    • It’s definitely a different kind of series, but at the same time all the traditional elements are there – mystery, fun characters and a bit of romance thrown in.

  8. elainehroberson

    Sounds like a book I would love to read. Thanks for a chance to win a copy.

  9. A musical mystery! How intriguing. Thanks for the chance to win a book.

  10. Sounds like a good read.

  11. Ah, the politics of schools. And beyond.

  12. Sounds like an exciting mystery series. I’d like to give it a try.

  13. An interesting new series concept. I like the sound of it. Thanks for the chance to win a paper copy of this title!

  14. New author and series to me. Book sounds interesting being set on the South Side of Chicago. Looking forward to reading.

  15. I’m hooked! Sounds great. Looking forward to reading it.

  16. This author and book are not familiar to me. I would love to be able to add the book to my to be read list by winning a copy. robeader53@yahoo.com

  17. WOW! This author has accomplished so much how did she ever find the time to write. I definitely want to read this one.

  18. Linda Herold

    I love music (band geek here) and I love mysteries! I’d love to win!!

  19. New author. New read. Looks great. Definitely want to read. Looks like a great series so will be checking it out. Hoping this will be an early beginning.

  20. Great feature and giveaway.

  21. The Music part of it really made me perk up. Thank you for a great sounding book. Marilyn ewatvess@yahoo.com

    • Thanks Marilyn! In my “day job” I’m a professor at Berklee College of music in Boston. Music has always been a huge part of my life. So writing about teaching and playing music was a lot of fun for me.