‘We’ve got him in one of the stairwells,’ Sigurdur Óli said. ‘He
waited for us. Called from his mobile. Every kid carries a mobile
phone these days. He said he’d taken a shortcut through the
garden on his way home from school and stumbled across the
‘I’ll talk to him,’ Erlendur said. ‘You check whether they can
find the boy’s tracks through the garden. If he was bleeding he
might have left a trail. Maybe he didn’t fall.’
‘Shouldn’t forensics handle that?’ Sigurdur Óli mumbled to
‘He doesn’t appear to have been attacked here in the garden,’
‘And for God’s sake, try to find his boot,’ Erlendur said as he
‘The boy who found him . . .’ Sigurdur Óli began.
‘Yes,’ Erlendur said, turning round.
‘He’s also col . . .’ Sigurdur Óli hesitated.
‘An immigrant kid,’ Sigurdur Óli said.
The boy sat on a step in one of the stairwells of the block of flats,
a policewoman sat with him. He had his sports kit wrapped up
in a yellow plastic bag and eyed Erlendur with suspicion. They
had not wanted to make him sit in a police car. That could have
led people to conclude that he was implicated in the boy’s death,
so someone had suggested that he wait in the stairwell instead.
The corridor was dirty. An unhygienic odour pervaded the
air, mingling with cigarette smoke and cooking smells from the
flats. The floor was covered in worn linoleum and the graffiti on
the wall seemed illegible to Erlendur. The boy’s parents were
still at work. They had been notified. He was dark-skinned with
straight jet-black hair that was still damp after his shower, and
big white teeth. He was dressed in an anorak and jeans, and
holding a woollen hat in his hands.
‘It’s awfully cold,’ Erlendur said, rubbing his hands.
The boy was silent.
Erlendur sat down beside him. The boy said that his name
was Stefán and he was thirteen. He lived in the next block of flats
up from this one and had done so for as long as he could
remember. His mother was from the Philippines, he said.
‘You must have been shocked when you found him,’
Erlendur said after a lengthy silence.
‘And you recognised him? You knew him?’
Stefán had told the police the boy’s name and address. It was
in this block but on another staircase and the police were trying
to locate his parents. All Stefán knew about the boy was that his
mother made chocolate and he had one brother. He said he had
not known him particularly well, nor his brother. They had only
quite recently moved to the area.
‘He was called Elli,’ the boy said. ‘His name was Elías.’
‘Was he dead when you found him?’
‘Yes, I think so. I shook him but nothing happened.’
‘And you phoned us?’ Erlendur said, feeling he ought to try to
cheer the lad up. ‘That was a good thing to do. Absolutely the
right thing. What did you mean when you said his mother
‘She works in a chocolate factory.’
‘Do you know what could have happened to Elli?’
‘Do you know any of his friends?’
‘What did you do after you shook him?’
‘Nothing,’ the boy said. ‘I just called the cops.’
‘You know the cops’ number?’
‘Yes. I come home from school on my own and Mum likes to
keep an eye on me. She . . .’
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