After three years of traipsing across Europe with her lovesick, widowed mother, Nell Bray has finally found her way to Oxford University. There she has befriended the beautiful Imogen and the charming Midge.
When the three girls decide to accept an invitation by their male classmates to join a reading party in the country during vacation - accompanied by a dashing philosophy don with a reputation for stirring up trouble - they go against what is quickly becoming the obsolete conventions of the nineteenth-century.
Once they arrive in the country, they are greeted by the unpleasant fact that their host has been accused of murder when a local boy is missing. Rather than return home, however, the six students and their mentor decide to put down their books and put their intellectual prowess to the test by solving the mystery.
This combination of mystery and learning - with some college crushes and loves along the way - makes Dead Man Riding Gillian Linscott's best mystery to date.