The Pocket Handkerchief


By Philip Kerr

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From New York Times bestselling author Philip Kerr, comes a story of a young man growing up in colonial America.
No one knows when “something infernal” crept into the heart of young Master Edgar, a well-bred British orphan in the hands of a cool stepfather in 19th century Richmond, Virginia, and under the care of the home’s educated and proper slave, Scipio. Was it when his actress mother died, years after moving Edgar and his brother from England to America? Was it during his strange education at the hands of the calculating Scipio? Or was it when he plotted another boy’s death so that he could gain entry, through the boy’s grave, into the underworld?

“The Pocket Handkerchief” by Philip Kerr is one of 20 short stories within Mulholland Books’s Strand Originals series, featuring thrilling stories by the most legendary authors in the Strand Magazine archives. View the full series list at and listen to them all!


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The Pocket Handkerchief

Philip Kerr

(With Apologies to Edgar Allan Poe)

I cannot remember precisely when I met Scipio for the first time, but I have the strong sense he knew me before I ever came to live in the house of his master, Mister A–, in Richmond, Virginia, during the year of our Lord, 18–.

I was aged only two when that happened. My natural father having died of the consumption, my mother married Mr. A– with a haste that would have put Queen Gertrude to shame and which, to my mind, bordered on the indecent. For myself, I do not remember my own father at all but, if the reader will permit the apparent contradiction, I have never forgotten him. He was buried in the churchyard of St. John's Episcopal Church where, it is said, General Benedict Arnold, the ignominious traitor, quartered his troops and their horses during the War of Independence.

Another six years passed before my beloved mother, Elizabeth, also succumbed to the same malady as my father, leaving me and my brother, William Henry, alone with our stepfather. She was just aged twenty-nine. I was myself but eight years old at the time, yet not a day has passed since then when I have not thought of her or the cruelty of the God who took her from us so young. If I had any Christian faith at all, I think it probably died then, with my beautiful young mother.


On Sale
Jun 7, 2016
Page Count
48 pages
Mulholland Books

Philip Kerr

About the Author

Philip Kerr is the author of nine widely acclaimed Bernie Gunter novels, most recently The Man Without Breath. Field Gray, the seventh in the series, was a finalist for the 2012 Mystery Writers of America Edgar Award for Best Novel. Kerr has also been a finalist for the Shamus Award for Best Hardcover Fiction and he won the British Crime Writers Association’s Ellis Peters Award for Historical Crime Fiction. Under the name P. B. Kerr, he is the author of the much-loved young adult series Children of the Lamp. He lives in London.

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