Readers may well find themselves looking nervously over their shoulders after finishing this memoir by Candice DeLong, who met a lot of Hannibal Lecter's soul mates during her 20 years as an FBI agent. An early practitioner of profiling, the analysis of crime data for what it reveals about the perpetrator, DeLong handled such ugly cases that she and her partner at one point were known as "the Gruesome Twosome." Her arrests included child molesters, rapists, and serial killers; among the book's useful features are her tips on what to do if you or your child is attacked. (Yell "Fire!" rather than "Help!" she advises; it attracts more attention.) Not that human nature's darker side was a surprise to DeLong, who came to the FBI from a job as head nurse in a maximum security psychiatric ward, where a violent paranoid schizophrenic crooned at her, "You better pray I never get out of these [restraints]. I could cut your head off. Or do you want me to tear your heart out?" The frank, conversational text ably captures the forceful personality of a female pioneer. The bureau had only been accepting women for eight years when DeLong joined in 1980, and her training at Quantico included brutal harassment by instructors determined to "wash out" any female applicant. Yet she had the toughness to survive and the good sense to know when to ignore her male colleagues' barbed jokes and when to kid them right back. Ultimately, she made friends and got ahead. As well as chronicling a stream of fascinating (and often deeply disturbing) high-profile cases such as the Unabomber, DeLong's narrative portrays a changing FBI, now valuing the special perspective contributed by female and African American agents it once scorned. --Wendy Smith
From Publishers Weekly
DeLong offers a lively account of a single mother's 20 years in America's most conservative federal law enforcement agency. She was a registered nurse, seasoned by work in locked psychiatric wards, when a romance with a veteran agent led her to apply to the FBI. Her initiation in 1980 at the Quantico training academy was a grueling process of "flush[ing] out the weak," at a time when the old guard and even many younger agents remained openly hostile to the notion of female agents. DeLong shrewdly addresses such gender issues, depicting how the first women agents forced a sea change to a more integrated FBI. She reminisces acidly about institutional sexism ("Somehow fathers who placed themselves in physical jeopardy were deemed valiant... while mothers were considered irresponsible"), and her work tracking sexual predators has left her highly aware of "the evil that men do." DeLong initially performed research and telephone work, notably on the 1982 Tylenol murders, and won the loyalty and friendship of forward-thinking male peers. She at last moved on to undercover work on major cases including long-term surveillance of a terrorist bombing cell, the Chicago-based FALN (members' sentences were recently commuted by President Clinton) and the Unabomber and provides gripping accounts of these events. She also became an early proponent of "profiling" a technique scorned early on by many cops until its worth was proved and it was made famous by agent John Douglas (Mindhunter, etc.). Primarily a personal memoir, with DeLong contemplating her transformations as a woman and mother, this is a valuable look at the procedures and rituals of a notoriously cloistered organization. DeLong also brings to her reminiscences a lightness and humor rarely associated with the "Feebies." (May)Forecast: A 10-city author tour and national radio satellite touro should capitalize on a national fascination with crime and the FBI.
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