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mojo-murderDo you believe in magic?

There’s a hex on Charley Howard’s Hot Links Emporium, and Charley, a.k.a. the Hot Sauce King, is furious. He suspects the Jamaican psychic who’s been “advising” his gullible wife Mabel is a phony, and he asks choir director Bertie Bigelow to do a little amateur sleuthing to help him prove it.

But Bertie’s already got all the drama she can handle.

The high-profile concert she’s doing with The Ace Of Spades, an ageing (but still sexy) rap star, has Metro College in an uproar. Her on-again, off-again flirtation with attorney David Mackenzie has hit a dead end, and her best friend Ellen Simpson has been seduced and abandoned for the third time this year.

When a Chicago Zoning Commissioner is rushed to the emergency room after filling up on the Soul Food Special at Charley’s restaurant, Bertie is forced to take action. She doesn’t need a crystal ball to know that there’s trouble on the horizon.

On the South Side of Chicago, a murderer lies in wait for Bertie Bigelow. To solve this case, she’s going to need all the mojo she can get.

Will Bertie get her mojo working in time?

Author Carolyn Marie Wilkins took a few moments to discuss MOJO FOR MURDER with The Big Thrill:

What do you hope readers will take away from this book?

I would like for readers to have fun when they read MOJO FOR MURDER. The Bertie Bigelow series is  meant to be light hearted and fun.  At the same time, readers will finish reading my book with an increased understanding for what life is like for people like Bertie Bigelow on the South Side of Chicago.

How does this book make a contribution to the genre?

I believe MOJO FOR MURDER contributes to the cozy mystery genre by giving readers a window into the lives of nontraditional characters.  Bertie and most of the other characters in the book are African Americans living on the South Side of Chicago. In spite of the fact that hey live in one of the city’s most dangerous areas, Bertie and her friends, laugh, live, and fall in love just like anyone else.  And when Bertie discovers a cold-blooded killer in their midst, the game is on!

Was there anything new you discovered, or surprised you, as you wrote this book?

What surprised me the most was how much fun I had writing it.  There were several places (I won’t say where) where I laughed out loud while writing.

No spoilers, but what can you tell us about your book that we won’t find in the jacket copy or the PR material? 

I’ve been keeping it on the QT but I am a psychic and a bit of a New Age buff! I had a big hoot sending up mediums, hexes, Tarot cards and similar phenomena in MOJO FOR MURDER.

What authors or books have influenced your career as a writer, and why?

Of course, I love all the traditional cozy writers. I read Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers, and Arthur Conan Doyle obsessively as a kid.  Later I discovered the great African American mystery writers. Valerie Wilson Wesley, Eleanor Taylor Bland, Barbara Neely and Walter Mosley were huge inspirations for me.


“Melody for Murder is a fun, sexy, and compelling mystery filled with wonderful characters, led by Bertie Bigelow, a determined and very likeable hero. Melody for Murder is one of those ‘can’t-seem-to-put-it down’ reads and is also one of those ‘can’t-wait-for-the-sequel’ books. Highly recommended!!” – Jon Damian

Carolyn Wilkins’ new mystery, Melody for Murder, features Bertie Bigelow, a delightful sleuth if ever there was one. Bertie teaches music at Metro Community College in Chicago, but when police suspect her of murder, she doesn’t pound her piano. She sets out to find the killer.
If you enjoy humorous mysteries with a musical twist, Melody for Murder is for you! Let’s hope Ms. Wilkins is already writing the next Bertie Bigelow mystery.” – Susan Fleet


carolynAs a kid growing up on the South Side of Chicago, Carolyn Marie Wilkins dreamed of singing backup for Aretha Franklin while becoming the next Agatha Christie. Although she’s still waiting for Aretha to call, Carolyn is now the author of five books. MOJO FOR MURDER and Melody For Murder feature the crime-fighting exploits of Bertie Bigelow, a forty-something choir director and amateur sleuth living on the South Side of Chicago. Carolyn’s nonfiction work includes They Raised Me Up: A Black Single Mother and the Women Who Inspired Her; Damn Near White: An African American Family’s Rise from Slavery to Bittersweet Success, and Tips For Singers: Performing, Auditioning, Rehearsing.

An accomplished jazz vocalist and professor at Berklee College of Music, Carolyn has performed on TV and radio with her group SpiritJazz, toured South America as a Jazz Ambassador for the US State Department, and played for shows featuring Melba Moore, Nancy Wilson, and the Fifth Dimension. When she’s not in the classroom or writing her next mystery novel, Carolyn can be found hanging out in the jazz clubs around Boston, MA.

To learn more about Carolyn, please visit her website.

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