Special Agent
by Candace DeLong with Elisa Petrini
Book Review by Amy Coffin
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Special Agent chronicles the twenty-year career of FBI agent Candace DeLong. Once a representative of the Bureau, DeLong's new status as "ordinary retired citizen" has allowed her to discuss Agency business that was once confidential. Therefore, with the assistance of Elisa Petrini, her experiences in the Federal Bureau of Investigation can now be told.

DeLong became an agent in 1980, at a time when very few women were accepted into the ranks. In fact, some of the male agents had been around since the Hoover era. DeLong discusses her experiences with gender discrimination and harassment. Some of the incidents are funny, but most of the behavior would be deemed offensive in today's workplace.

The first big story DeLong discusses is the Tylenol tampering case back in the early 80's. She was in on the investigation and provides some interesting insight that was not available from the nightly newscasts. DeLong was also around during the early days of profiling used as a crime-solving tool and tells some great stories on that subject as well.

This book is written along the timeline of the agent's career, concludes with the biggest caper of the all. Candace DeLong was part of the team that captured the Unabomber, Ted Kaczynski. With the help of co-author Petrini, DeLong discusses her role in the case. In the end, she was responsible for detaining Kaczynski while the other agents searched his little shack in Montana. I found the interaction and dialogue between the two described here to be completely fascinating.

The storytelling and pacing are good and held my interest throughout the book. DeLong reveals only small portions of her private life, focusing instead on her career. There is a feminist slant to the views. This may be necessary to accurately describe the experience of being a female agent in a predominantly male workplace.

For the sensitive reader, the subject matter may be difficult to digest. The author is frank with her descriptions of federal crimes against children and other innocent victims. However, this is a book about a FBI career and actual events can't be sugarcoated. DeLong and Petrini achieve a nice balance between the light and heavy topics. The result is a satisfying read.

There are no real drawbacks in Special Agent unless you count the slight scent of an ego that rises from the pages. However, with 20 years of dedicated service to her country, I think a little pride is justified. Besides, by the look of the photo on the back of the book jacket, it looks like retired FBI agent Candace DeLong can still kick major butt. Therefore, I'll just leave my criticism at that and move on to safer pastures.

All in all Special Agent: My Life on the Front Lines as a Woman in the FBI is an interesting book. Crime buffs will especially appreciate the candid look into the FBI. Other readers should enjoy DeLong's story as well. It is a look back on the career of a brave and unique woman.

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