f you read the previous Detectives Beyond Borders post
, you know I nearly exhausted myself coming up with superlatives for Mike Nicol's novel Black Heart
. "If you like your thrillers drum-head tight, sharply observed, with a keen satirical edge, thoroughly entertaining even as they offer serious commentary on the countries of their setting," I wrote, "you want to read Mike Nicol."
I loved the whole book, in fact, except for three words:
"‘We’re not doing a runner, Vee.'"
The trouble with doing a runner
is that the speaker is American, and so is the character to whom he is speaking, and doing a runner
is simply not American English. The Oxford Dictionaries
and Merriam Webster
Web sites define it as British, and my experience with the word suggests this is correct (though the expression has spread to Australia and Nicol's South Africa, among others).
If you're American or Canadian, would one American character's use of doing a runner to another bother you? If you're South African or British, would "skipping town" or "taking off" have made you scratch your head? How faithful must an author be to language his characters would use in real life?
© Peter Rozovsky 2014