The inspector shook his head. 'You know something, Sergeant? I sometimes get the feeling that more kids are adrift out there than we ever imagine. Pecking away in odd places, unnoticed, unloved -- nesting under the eaves, in holes and waste spaces, like sparrows.'"" This is about four of those sparrows, with a dual focus on Sprog, on the lam from a foster home where an older boy has tormented him and now sharing a basement hideaway with a nameless, speechless, grotesquely scarred smaller boy, and Keith, just escaped with bigger, brutal Scobie from a reform school to which Keith had been sent as the result of a frameup. After Keith and Scobie land in on the other boys' shelter they tap the electricity from upstairs for a heater, scavenge a fancy lamp from a junkyard, and nick food and supplies from a nearby warehouse to which Scobie has made keys; the four share and fight and regroup until Scobie is arrested, Keith fetched back to the school by a teacher who recognizes that he is basically straight, and Sprog and the historyless boy head nowhere together. The pathos and near plotlessness are redeemed by the grim clarity of the sparrows' view of London street life.