After dealing with some encroachers on his territory, John Marcone returns to one of his strongholds, where a young woman arrives, asking for sanctuary for herself and a child under the terms of the Unseelie Accords. He immediately recognizes her as Justine, secretary to Lara Raith. Justine was sent on a mission by Lara to the Fomor with some documents, but she was imprisoned by a Fomor lord named Mag, who is now pursuing her. With no time to reach Lara's protection, she seeks John's instead. Marcone is none too happy about this turn of events, but realizes he may be able to use it as an opportunity to test his defenses for a possible future endeavor.
"Even Hand" is a short story in the Dresden Files universe that falls between Turn Coat and Changes in the series chronology. This story marks the second one so far that is told from the POV of a character other than Harry. In this case, it's mobster and only human member of the Unseelie Accords John Marcone. He's approached at one of his strongholds by Justine, who asks for sanctuary for herself and a young child. She was apparently on a mission for her employer, Lara Raith, delivering documents to an ancient people known as the Fomor, who imprisoned her. She managed to escape, but chased by a Fomor lord named Mag who wants her returned, she was unable to make it back to Lara's protection and asks for John's instead.
I've always liked that Marcone seems to have a certain degree of honor, which is on display here as well. He appears to have a soft spot for kids, and although he says his choices are for his own selfish reasons, I can't help wondering if he does have a little bit of a heart. However, by the end of the story, we're let in on what his true motivations and future intentions are and they certainly don't bode well for Harry. This story leaves unanswered questions about Justine's mission and the identity of the child in her possession, so I look forward to seeing if they're answered in the next book of the series. Overall, this was a well-written and enjoyable little tidbit of a read that gave me a few new insights into Marcone's character. "Even Hand" was previously published three other times in the multi-author anthologies, Beyond the Pale, Dark and Stormy Knights, and Urban Enemies, before being reprinted in the single-author anthology, Brief Cases.
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