Name Games Headline
Boy Toy CoverFifth in the series of
Mark Manning mysteries
by Michael Craft

Hardcover published June 2001
Trade paperback published June 2002
St. Martin's Press, New York
272 pages, ISBN 0-312-26917-X

Teenage rivalry turns deadly in the fifth Mark Manning mystery, when Thad Quatrain, Manning’s ward and nephew, becomes the prime suspect in a fellow student’s 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 life—like death—has 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 thickens—involving wild mushrooms, amateur theater, and erotic massage. How do these disparate elements come together? You’ll discover the startling answers in Boy Toy, Michael Craft’s craftiest novel to date.

Author’s comments

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 Manning’s 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.

As Boy Toy opens, Manning has largely resolved his unexpected journey to parenthood, having established a happy, “normal” home with Thad and Neil. Naturally, I couldn’t resist throwing a wrench in the works. (Never trust a mystery writer to settle for complacency.) When a student actor dies under mysterious circumstances and suspicion begins to mount against Thad, Manning gets highly motivated to solve the crime. His investigation isn’t just a matter of journalism—it’s personal.

I drew from my own experience in depicting Thad’s 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. Gurney’s Later Life; and I’m 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 never—at least to my knowledge—turned murderous.

A final note regarding theater. About two-thirds through the story, Thad is discussing his college plans, still a year off. He’s seriously considering enrolling in theater school. Pay attention—this discussion plants the seeds for my new series, which features the renowned director Claire Gray.

Critical acclaim

“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.”
       — Publishers Weekly

Boy Toy is fast-paced, sexy, and mah-velously entertaining.”
       — Richard Olsen, Gay Studies Editor,

“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.”
       — Greg Herren, Editor, Lambda Book Report

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.”
       — Ken Furtado, Echo Magazine, Phoenix

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.”
       — Tavo Amador, Bay Area Reporter, San Francisco

Boy Toy’s 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.”
       — Jim Quinlan, Gay & Lesbian Times, Palm Springs

“Leave it to Michael Craft to continue surprising his fans and raising the bar for modern mysteries and gay fiction.”
       — Erik Swallow, Out & About, Norfolk

“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.”
       — Gillian Engberg, Booklist

“An intriguing mystery that holds the reader's interest to the last page.”
       — Robert Cravey, Orange County Blade

“A fine series addition.”
       —Library Journal

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. 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

Click here to order Boy Toy (paperback) from

Click here to order SIGNED copies.