in the series of
Mark Manning mysteries
by Michael Craft
Hardcover published June 2001
Teenage rivalry turns deadly in the fifth Mark Manning mystery, when Thad Quatrain, Mannings ward and nephew, becomes the prime suspect in a fellow students baffling murder. Making matters worse, both boys have been preparing for roles in a summer-theater production, and when Thad steps into the starring role, it seems that lifelike deathhas imitated art. Even though Thad does not yet face charges for the tragedy, local gossip has already convicted him, prompting our journalist-hero to bring his investigative talents to the fore. Manning soon finds himself in a race against time to exonerate his nephew, but the plot only thickensinvolving wild mushrooms, amateur theater, and erotic massage. How do these disparate elements come together? Youll discover the startling answers in Boy Toy, Michael Crafts craftiest novel to date.
Regular readers of the Mark Manning series have probably noticed that while each of the books has a distinct surface plot (the whodunit that our hero is trying to solve), the subplot is continuous from book to book. I intended for Mannings evolving self-awareness and growth as a mature gay man to supply the thematic underpinnings of the series, giving the books their serial flavor. Consider: beginning with Flight Dreams, we have accompanied Manning as he grappled with his sexual identity, came out, committed to Neil, flirted with infidelity, recommitted to his relationship, inherited a child (nephew Thad), and adjusted to the new role of parent, with Neil again at his side.
I drew from my own experience in depicting Thads involvement with the Dumont Players Guild, having myself been involved with amateur theater off and on since high school. I have appeared in some 17 plays; a few years ago, I directed a local production of A.R. Gurneys Later Life; and Im a past president of Lakeside Players, our community theater in hometown Kenosha, Wisconsin. The Dumont Playhouse described in the book bears an uncanny resemblance to the Rhode Opera House in downtown Kenosha, and the history of the two buildings is essentially identical. Rest assured, the similarity ends there. While artistic temperaments have sometimes flared within the ranks of our theater group, they have neverat least to my knowledgeturned murderous.
Strong characterization, vivid descriptions of a Wisconsin summer and a well-developed mystery with a surprising conclusion combine with a sensitive portrayal of two men creating a family for a teenage boy.
Boy Toy is fast-paced, sexy, and mah-velously entertaining.
An absolute delight . . . Written with Craft's customary wit and
charm, Boy Toy is a quick, enjoyable read, perfect for a day at
the beach or the plane trip to St. Croix.
Boy Toy is a quantum leap forward for Craft as a writer,
artist and hatcher of plots . . . The author stayed a step ahead of me
on every page . . . You're bound to enjoy Boy Toy.
Boy Toy is a classic puzzle mystery, but one with a double
twist . . . an entertaining novel that challenges the reader's deductive
reasoning skills . . . the finest entry yet in a distinguished series.
Boy Toys characters are exquisitely human, with recognizable
quirks and foibles keenly sculpted by the writer's able and inventive
mind . . . Readers will revel in the unexpected twists and turns.
With spot-on details, Craft creates a richly drawn cast, with some delightful new additions to the supporting cast whose lively banter and over-the-top personalities will amuse readers. A sexy, entertaining addition to the series.
Robert Cravey, Orange County Blade
A fine series addition.
Boy Toy is a fantastic whodunit . . . Michael Craft is a master craftsman who provides his audience with a fascinating tale.
Harriet Klausner, BookBrowser Reviews
Boy Toy was honored by the Lambda Literary Foundation as a Lammy Award finalist for "Best Gay Mystery" published in 2001.
Amazon.com honored Boy Toy in January 2002 with a "Best of 2001" listing.
Click here to read an excerpt from Boy Toy.
Click here to read a related interview by William E. Robbins.
Click here to order Boy Toy (hardcover) from Amazon.com.
Click here to order Boy Toy (paperback) from Amazon.com.
Click here to order SIGNED copies.