Caroline Todd, who wrote 15 novels of detective fiction with her late husband, Inge (“who were ‘Todds’ and ‘Todds’ and ‘Todds’ and are ‘Todds,’ ” she has fondly written of them) today died from natural causes in Plano, Texas. She was 86.
One of author Fay Weldon’s favourite terms is that people say that “Caroline Todd is a Todd.” This is usually reserved for the high-brow friend or romantic partner (which Todd was in real life). The couple had the classic “Caroline” in their marriage, “Ange” in her husband’s.
As their first published novel, “Caroline Todd’s Vincents” (with “It has been christened a Christie and a Willingham”), Patricia Hopkins got a single page of notice in The Washington Post’s Novels for Moms column in 1954: “‘Todds’ and ‘Todds’ are the ‘Todds’ with you.”
Caroline and Inge met while attending the New York Academy of Medicine in 1951. After Carrie Fisher’s death last year, I noted a story from 1960 in Harper’s Magazine — Inge’s own narration — about the aftermath of their first “Kohler wedded” (Todd reportedly wrote every book, but Inge is recorded as being the financier).
A few years later, when Caroline was appearing at the Peanut Winter Reading Series, a friend suggested she perform a “Caroline Todd’s Rex Peter Murder Mystery”:
Kathy got through murder: “I finished that. I said, well, that’s another one. I can’t.” (Caroline could not do “Todds” things.) Why? Because Caroline and Inge had a longstanding rule that no lady was permitted to perform “Todds” things. Although I promised to get back to her. Except that the agent who got “Caroline Todd’s Rex Peter Murder Mystery” into The Smithsonian Library only answered her letters with, “I promised you this, but I can’t tell you anymore.” For months, my memory bank was not complete.
The response was very long, and the agent sent out additional requests that “Caroline Todd’s Rex Peter Murder Mystery” not be published. It was not. Caroline persisted. Until she got “Caroline Todd’s Lipstick Murder Mystery,” which she considers her best.
She did not appear in local area book clubs in the same way as Inge: “I did not die yesterday. Do you mind my having to tell you, don’t Google me, I didn’t die yesterday.” Todd did have her biographer, Susan Kirkpatrick, write two of her books. In one, Todd calls herself a “Bobbie” (which presumably refers to Robert Hilliard, a special friend she’d seen while an intern at a psychiatric hospital.)
“So, yes,” she says, “we both had long marriages, came up with good fiction, and had a lot of fun.”
But as Kirkpatrick wrote, “Caroline Todd died yesterday.”