Farberville, Arkansas is playing host to its first ever mystery convention. Sponsored by the Thurber Farber Foundation and held at Farber College, Murder Comes to Campus is playing host to five major mystery writers representing all areas of the field. Dragooned into running the show when the original organizer is hospitalized, local bookseller Claire Malloy finds herself in the midst of a barely controlled disaster. Not only do each of the writers present their own set of idiosyncrasies and difficulties (including one who arrives with her cat Wimple in tow), the feared, distrusted, and disliked mystery editor of Paradigm House, Roxanne Small, puts in a surprise appearance at the conference. Added to Claire's own love-life woes with local police detective Peter Rosen, things have never been worse.
Then when one of the attendees dies in a suspicious car accident, Wimple the cat disappears from Claire's home, and Roxanne Small is nowhere to be found, it becomes evident that the murder mystery is more than a literary genre.