Skin Game Secret Instructions

A complete list of all of the “secret instructions” given and received in the book Skin Game, a Harry Dresden novel by Jim Butcher.

Warning!  Spoilers!

It is recommended that you read the novel Skin Game before continuing.

Introduction

Skin Game cover art

Near the end of the novel Skin Game, the reader discovers that coded “secret instructions” have been given by Harry Dresden to Goodman Grey throughout the entire story.  The problem is that the typical reader cannot remember what any of these “secret instructions” were.

So:  the purpose of this web page is to list all of those “secret instructions” so that the reader, after discovering that these instructions existed, can see for themselves how those instructions may have influenced the actions of Goodman Grey and the story as a whole.

This following quote is the “key” for the coded “secret instructions” from Chapter Forty-Four of the book.  The speaker is the main character, Harry Dresden.  He is speaking to Kris Kringle / Donar Vadderung, CEO of Monoc Securities.

“Uh...,” I said.  “He’d be taking his cues from me, so mostly he’d be the one asking me questions.  Tell him to refer to me as ‘wizard’ just before he asks a question relating to the situation at hand.  The first word of my response would be the answer.  Then we could make the actual conversation sound like something else entirely.  We play along until it’s time for me to make my move.  Then I use the phrase ‘game over’ and we hit them.“
— Butcher, J. (2014). Skin Game (pp. 374-375). NY NY: The Penguin Group.

Below is a list of every statement in which Goodman Grey addresses Harry Dresden as “wizard”, and the response from Harry Dresden, as well as contextual information.  Also included is the final “game over” instruction.  Page numbers are from the U.S. ROC hardcover edition (ISBN 978-0-451-46439-2).

List of Secret Instructions

Chapter:  15    Page Number: 110

Most Recent Activity

  • Anna Valmont recruited. 
  • Harvey Morrison dossier discussed.
  • Bullet removed from Harry’s ankle by Butters.
  • Harry’s dream — conversation with Molly and sex with Karrin.

Current Situation

Meeting in the slaughterhouse, Goodman Grey’s first appearance, he is introduced and begins trading threats with Harry and Karrin.

Goodman’s Question

“And I wasn’t actually talking to you, wizard, was I now?”

Dresden’s Answer

“Not yet.  I should ask you,” I replied, “how thick do you think that wall behind you might be?  When you go flying through it a few seconds from now, do you think you’ll knock out a whole section, or just a little chunk the size of your head and shoulders?”

Comment

I believe that this was just a “trial run”, Grey testing Harry to see if “secret instructions” would be passed to Goodman in the manner he had been instructed.

Chapter:  16    Page Number: 117

Most Recent Activity

  • Preparations for the mission discussed.
  • Harry gets himself assigned to the task of acquiring Harvey Morrison’s DNA.

Current Situation

Harry Dresden, Goodman Grey and Deirdre Archleone are waiting in a car, staking out Harvey Morrison’s office.  There is a dispute regarding how to proceed:  straightforward enter, kill Harvey and take the DNA, or attempt a more sublte approach that will not leave any indication of a crime committed.

Goodman’s Question

“The argument is not entirely without merit.  Tell me, wizard, does it give you some kind of satisfaction to protect this man?”

Dresden’s Answer

“Yeah.”

Chapter:  19    Page Number: 138

Most Recent Activity

  • Harry, with Harvey Morrison in tow, takes shelter in an abandoned store, pursued by Polonius Lartessa (“Tessa”) and several gun-toting ghouls.
  • Harry manages to drive off Tessa and freeze two of the ghouls, but the effort leaves him magically exhausted and seriously injured (broken arm).
  • Goodman Grey, mascarading as Harvey Morrison, kills the last two ghouls, saving Harry’s life.

Current Situation

Grey tells Harry that he had to knock out Harvey, but then they find Harvey’s body, freshly killed.  Grey assures Harry that he did not kill Harvey.

Goodman’s Question

“Wizard. You know I’m telling you the truth, right?”

Dresden’s Answer

“Right,  I said, “Sure you are. We’re a trustworthy bunch of Boy Scouts.“

Chapter:  33    Page Number: 272

Most Recent Activity

  • At another meeting in the slaughterhouse, Nicodemus announces that they will be breaking into mobster Johnnie Marcone’s vault.
  • Butters, caught spying on the meeting, escapes with Harry and Karrin’s help, but Karrin is lamed and Fidelacchius broken in the process.
  • Michael Carpenter, “the Fist of God”, comes out of retirement to save Karrin’s life and to take her place as Harry’s bodyguard.

Current Situation

At the slaughterhouse the night of the break-in, Goodman Grey and Michael Carpenter meet.  They seem to know each other, and seem unhappy with each other’s presence.

Goodman’s Question

“Do you really expect me to work with someone like this, wizard, on our side?”

Dresden’s Answer

“Yes,” I said.“  You’ve been hired, haven’t you?  Show a little professionalism.”

Chapter:  35    Page Number: 284

Most Recent Activity

  • The break-in begins.
  • Two security doors are bypassed by burning through the walls.
  • Anna Valmont hesitates attempting to crack the booby-trapped, modified vault door, but Harry advises her that the modification uses less advanced technology than the standard and she begins working on it.

Current Situation

While Anna Valmont works to open the vault door, Marcone’s security forces arrive (responding to a silent alarm) and begin a firefight on the upper floor.  Goodman Grey warns Harry about the security forces, “There are enough of them to make a great big mess of this entire operation, but so far they’re just probing us.”

Goodman’s Question

“Wizard,“ Grey said, a trifle impatiently, “are you sure you want to keep pushing it like this?”

Dresden’s Answer

“Yeah,” I said.  “Think so.”

Chapter:  39    Page Number: 331

Most Recent Activity

  • The team penetrates the vault doors.
  • Harry opens “the Way” into Hades’ vault.
  • Hanna Ascher opens the Gate of Fire.
  • Harry opens the Gate of Ice.
  • The Genoskwa and Goodman Grey restrain Harry and Anna and threaten to kill them.
  • Michael Carpenter threatens to attack Nicodemus if either of Harry or Anna are killed, and Nicodemus and Dierdre move into the antechamber of the Gate of Blood and speak privately.

Current Situation

Goodman Grey is holding Anna Valmont captive with sharp claws poised at her throat.  Harry speaks:  “Grey,” I said, “I thought you were a pro.”

Goodman’s Question

“I am,” Grey said calmly. “You know something like this was coming, wizard.“  His fingers flexed gently on Valmont’s throat, by way of demonstration.  “Do you really want everyone to fall apart right now?”

Dresden’s Answer

“Not yet.  Look, what I did, I did for insurance,” I said, “but he’s talking about killing one of us…”

Chapter:  43    Page Number: 368

Most Recent Activity

  • Dierdre opens the Gate of Blood.
  • Harry and Anna Valmont proceed to the center of Hades’ vault under the pretense of checking for traps.
  • Harry speaks privately with Hades.
  • Harry secretly retrieves all of the religious artifacts excepting for the grail, which he gives to Nicodemus.
  • Nicodemus and the Genoskwa attack Harry and Michael.
  • The Genoskwa and Hanna Ascher reveal that they are Denarians and Harry talks with Hanna/Lasciel.

Current Situation

Goodman Grey appears, says that he just killed Anna Valmont and joins the villains in preparation to renew the attack against Harry and Michael.

Dresden’s Answer

“Game over, man.  Game over.”