‘She always tells me to phone the police immediately if . . .’
‘If anything happens.’
‘What do you think happened to Elli?’
‘I don’t know.’
‘Were you born in Iceland?’
‘Elli too, do you know?’
The boy had been staring down at the linoleum on the stairwell floor all the time, but now he looked Erlendur in the face.
‘Yes,’ he answered. The front door swung open and Elínborg was blown indoors. A thin sheet of glass separated the stairwell from the entrance and Erlendur saw that she was carrying his overcoat. With a smile he told the boy he might talk to him again later, then stood up and walked over to Elínborg.
‘You know you must only interrogate children in the presence of a parent or guardian or child welfare officer and all that,’ she snapped as she handed him his coat.
‘I wasn’t interrogating him,’ Erlendur said. ‘Just asking about things in general.’ He looked at his overcoat. ‘Has the body been removed?’
‘It’s on its way to the morgue. He didn’t fall. They found a trail.’
‘The boy entered the garden from the west side,’ Elínborg said. ‘There’s a path there. It’s supposed to be lit but one of the residents told us there’s only one lamp-post and the bulbs are always getting smashed. He got into the garden by climbing over the fence. We found blood on it. He lost his boot there, probably when he was clambering over.’
Elínborg took a deep breath.
‘Someone stabbed him,’ she said. ‘He probably died from a knife wound to the stomach. There was a pool of blood underneath him that froze more or less directly it formed.’ Elínborg fell silent.
‘He was probably going home,’ she said eventually.
‘Can we trace where he was stabbed?’
‘We’re working on it.’
‘Have his parents been contacted?’
‘His mother’s on the way. Her name’s Sunee. She’s Thai. We haven’t told her what’s happened yet. That’ll be terrible.’ ‘You go and be with her,’ Erlendur said. ‘What about the father?’
‘I don’t know. There are three names on the entryphone. One looked something like Niran.’
‘I understand he has a brother,’ Erlendur said.
He opened the door for her and they went out into the howling north wind. Elínborg waited for the mother. She would go to the morgue with her. A policeman accompanied Stefán home; they would take a statement from him there. Erlendur went back into the garden. He put on his overcoat. The grass was dark where the boy had been lying.
I am felled to the ground.
A snatch of old verse entered Erlendur’s mind as he stood, silent and deep in thought, looking down at the patch where the boy had been lying. He took a last glance up the length of the gloomy block of flats, then carefully picked his way over the icy ground towards the playground, where he grasped the cold steel of the slide with one hand. He felt the piercing cold crawl up his arm.
I am felled to the ground,
frozen and cannot be freed . . .
Excerpted from Arctic Chill by Arnaldur Indridason. Copyright © 2009 by Arnaldur Indridason. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Minotaur. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien
Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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