The next day, Ed is watching a soccer match on television, so Christopher decides to ask his neighbors whether they know anything about Wellington’s death. He doesn’t usually talk to strangers. This isn’t because he’s afraid of them—he can hit hard and always carries his Swiss Army Knife—but because he has trouble understanding people he doesn’t know. When there are new staff members at school, he observes them for weeks before he’ll talk to them, and then finds out everything he can about them.
Christopher’s determination to solve the mystery of Wellington’s death is already beginning to push him out of his comfort zone. His way of managing new staff members reveals the depth of his social difference from most others. Even so, he approaches that situation logically, essentially doing reconnaissance as he carefully observes the habits and personalities of new people around him.
Christopher feels brave for talking to his neighbors. He makes a map of the street, then knocks on the Thompsons’ door and asks the man who answers if he knows who killed Wellington. The man, Mr. Thompson’s brother, is impolite and doesn’t even know that the dog has been killed. He wasn’t in town the night of the murder, so Christopher leaves.
Christopher’s methodical mind leads him to draw out a map of the street that he already knows so well. The reader begins to see how people react to Christopher’s social skills—this man has no desire to indulge Christopher, and yet Christopher still manages to get an alibi out of him.
Next, Christopher talks to a black woman who’s nicer to him, but who didn’t see anything suspicious the night of the murder. Christopher asks whether she can think of anyone who doesn’t like Mrs. Shears, and she suggests he talk to his father—and tells him to be careful.
This woman is more polite to Christopher, yet in doing so she talks down to him slightly, implying that he can’t take care of himself. However, she also raises a valid point with her concern for his safety.
Christopher then goes to Mr. Wise’s house. Mr. Wise laughs at him, so Christopher leaves. He avoids the house next to his own because the people who live there do drugs and play loud music.
Christopher has pretty effective methods of dealing with people who make him uncomfortable—not worried about being polite, he doesn’t hesitate to simply walk away from people he doesn’t like.
He sees another neighbor, the elderly Mrs. Alexander, working in her yard. He asks her about Wellington’s death, and though she doesn’t know who the culprit is, she tries to engage him in friendly conversation. Christopher makes an attempt to chat even though he’s not very good at it. Mrs. Alexander invites him in for tea, and when he doesn’t want to come in, offers to bring out cake and orange squash, a drink. It ends up that the cake has yellow on it, which Christopher doesn’t like, so she says she’ll bring cookies instead. However, when she’s in the house for a while Christopher begins to think she might be calling the police, and he leaves.
Mrs. Alexander is one of the most sympathetic characters so far. From the beginning, she doesn’t talk down to Christopher, but instead takes him seriously and expresses an interest in him as a person. Even when she sees some of his quirks, such as his refusal to eat anything yellow, she accepts them as perfectly reasonable and adjusts her own actions to help Christopher’s world function as he needs it to. Despite this, Christopher still refuses to trust her, demonstrating his deep suspicion of anyone who has not proven themselves to him.
Christopher decides that, due to the fact that most murders are committed by someone the victim knows, his prime suspect should be Mr. Shears, since he’s the only person Christopher knows of who doesn’t like Mrs. Shears. Mr. Shears left his wife two years earlier, which was why Mrs. Shears came to help out after Christopher’s mother died. Sometimes Mrs. Shears would stay overnight. Christopher doesn’t know why Mr. Shears left, but he figures it must be because one of them had an affair or they argued.
Here, Christopher’s logical mind serves him well in deducing possible suspects. At the same time, his difficulty understanding people or reading any implications into their actions prevents him from guessing that there might be anything more to know about Mr. Shears leaving or Mrs. Shears staying overnight at Christopher’s house when she lives right next door. The reader, however, might become more suspicious at this point.