Greensboro author said to be “one of the great writers of our era” rarely mentioned in Greensboro

It’s a mystery.

One of the most highly regarded mystery writers of the last fifty years is from Greensboro. Yet you never hear the name in Greensboro.

The New York Times speaks of “unnervingly beautiful historical novels,” and says of a particular one that it “gets it all right: a shocking crime in a bucolic setting; secretive characters who act from complex motives; a confounding puzzle elegantly presented and put before a detective with an intuitive understanding of the dark side of human nature.” 

There are forty novels, many awards. The author is Charles Todd. “One of the great writers of our era.”

There’s more to the mystery. “Charles Todd” is a pen name. The author is actually a mother and son team. They are Caroline and Charles Todd. And those are themselves pen names for Caroline and David Watjen.

And beneath that, there’s one more layer. Caroline Watjen was born Caroline Teachey in Greenboro where she grew up and graduated from UNCG.

One often hears and sees references to Greensboro authors from Tourgée to O’Henry, to Taylor and Jarrell, to Chappell and Card and Kelly. And more. But Charles Todd is rarely (ever?) mentioned. Nor Caroline, nor Watjen, nor Teachey. The books are undeniably good – whatever category or status they are accorded.

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