It can (and has) been said that some of the best stories mirror reality in a way that helps us reflect back on our own lives. This is the goal Detroit-based author Tracie E. Christian had in mind with her latest novel “Murder on the Yard – The Black College Sabbatical 20 years later.” This is Christian’s ninth novel, and the fourth in her Black College Sabbatical series, which follows a group of friends at an HBCU as they navigate school life and personal issues.
“Murder on the Yard,” puts an HBCU twist on the classic murder-mystery genre. Even for readers who haven’t read the other books, the new installment introduces readers to the various backstories of the characters and tells their stories through dynamic scenes and reflective food-for-thought moments.
As the title suggests, this sequel picks up with the original characters now 20 years later with families and established careers. As the group reunites at the University homecoming, a murder occurs, leaving the group to try to uncover who did it, how, and most importantly, why? Christian offers many twists to keep the reader engaged from cover to cover.
Christian, a Detroit native, author, poet and twice recipient of the Spirit of Detroit award, drew from her experience as an HBCU student for the original trilogy. Now, she’s drawing inspiration from the current COVID pandemic turmoil and her own health struggles, most notably with Lupus, as the emotional backdrop for her latest thriller.
“I’ve had friends asking me for years to write another book, and I used to laugh it off. But after going through the pandemic, my own emotional and mental crisis struggling with COVID and all this stuff we’re still going through, I felt ready for an outlet and to give others that outlet,” Christian says.
Several members of her family became ill early into the pandemic, including Christian herself. As she recovered, old friends called to check-in on her and she began reflecting on the lasting bonds of those early relationships and how they formed. The conversations made her think of how her characters might respond to this new world with added stakes, and she began writing.
“I began to think what if I used that to reintroduce ‘The Black College Sabbatical,’ and look at the world with the new lenses we all have,” Christian says.
“Murder on the Yard,” as well as other books in the Black College Sabbatical series can be found at