Derek Gunderson is a pianist in the last year of a degree at a conservatorium of music. He is a fine pianist, coasting toward a career in music. Emotionally complacent, he supplements his crushes of the moment with casual, empty sex with his adventurous ex-girlfriend. When he meets Jocasta Davies at a party, it initially seems as though she will be another prize to pursue lazily. Perhaps he'll get her, perhaps he won't. It hardly matters to Derek when so many aspects of his life are so well taken care of. Within a space of a couple of days, things fall apart for Derek - an important performance is a disaster, Jocasta announces she is involved with someone else, his ex-girlfriend starts seeing his best friend and his health goes downhill. Derek is forced to rebuild his character and life, reconcile his relationships and face the terrifying fact that his driving passion for music, his lifeblood is fading. Derek's confidence is suddenly crushed with the awareness of all things he no longer knows or understands.
Jesse Pentecost has created a modern-day Holden Caulfield (Catcher in the Rye) who stands on the brink of adulthood, where there is a realisation that there is a point in life where the world promises everything but the future holds little certainty at all. Full of honesty and humour, The Con is a beautifully written, scalpel-sharp examination of the people and the choices that make us who we are.