Melodie Muses On Animals Behind Bars

Penny Grubb
Flint and Steel
Published in
3 min readJul 19, 2022

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Photo/image: Penny Grubb

Con by Mark P Henderson is a book set inside a prison — note that it’s very definitely an adult novel. And oh my! It’s a belter!

If you want a real feel for the inside of a prison without the bother of committing a crime, this is the book for you.

Do real prisoners in real prisons keep pets?

An ambitious programme was set up in California in 2016. It pairs rescue dogs with prison inmates, teaching convicts to become dog trainers and saving rescue dogs from “high kill” shelters. The last I read about it, it was benefitting both dogs and convicts.

Stories about prisoners and their pets don’t exactly abound, but I’ve heard of a few.

When very young, I remember being entranced by the story of a convict and a rat who befriended each other, though given that the relationship culminated in the rat bringing the convict the key to his cell, allowing him to escape, I’m inclined to think that one was fiction.

The thing about Con is that it’s so real, it feels as though Mark P Henderson must have pulled all the anecdotes from life even though the book is fiction — there’s even a falcon. So of course I simply had to ask, although I couldn’t ask directly about the falcon — a peregrine falcon no less — I daren’t because I didn’t want to…

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Penny Grubb
Flint and Steel

An award-winning crime novelist & long-time amateur poultry keeper, who specialised in teaching methods, healthcare & software engineering as an academic.