Clay and Bones by Lisa G. Bailey: 4****

From the book cover to the story, this is one memoir that everyone should take the time to read. The author, Lisa Bailey, was one of the first female forensic artists at the FBI, and she delivers a powerful look into both her profession as well as the many issues that surrounded her lengthy employment at the FBI. It is an insiders look into forensic artistry, as well as how the FBI operates, and to put it mildly, the FBI does not come off looking very good in this book.
Lisa had a lifelong love of art and landed a job at John Hopkins University. But she wanted more of a challenge for herself, and therefore applied to the FBI when an opening was advertised for a forensic artist. I took almost 9 months before somebody contacted her, but after her interview, she was offered the job. Unfortunately, she had to wait two years to actually begin working for the agency because there was a hiring freeze on even though they needed forensic artists and therefore they were not allowed to hire anyone. Finally, she got her chance and found out that politics was not just in the capital. Along the way she worked on some very high profile cases, as well as many lesser cases which are just important to the families of victims. She became an expert in facial reconstruction and facial aging and we learn a lot about the skills that are required to do both of those jobs.

We learned about something called a “Body Farm” where the forensics people go to try and hone their skills. But, you’re only as good as your supervisors, and boy did she has some lousy supervisors. It seems that the FBI does not want to promote the most talented people into management and so what they do is they take people who are not so well suited for management and then when things go wrong, they refused to do anything to correct the situation, and this is something that followed Lisa throughout her career. We even find out why one person was “demoted” into a management position, which was really a promotion, but it’s all due to his lack of expertise in the courtroom which resulted in a huge opinion as to it’s lack of expert qualifications. Now you would think a person like that might very well be sent to the rear, but no, he is promoted to a supervisor and there he seems to go out of his way to pick on Lisa, and provide an extremely unhealthy workplace atmosphere. It’s a fascinating look and sometimes one wonders why things don’t get done properly and why we seem to be a little behind the 8-ball when it comes to investigations, but if you read this book, you’ll understand that a lot of things need to change in order to keep the FBI running smoothly. Hopefully this will happen sometime in the future.
This is a fast read book that grabs your attention from the first page and keeps it to the very end. I wish we would’ve been able to learn more about the high profile cases that Lisa worked on, but on the other hand we get a lot of really fine information about how a forensic artist does their job, as well as how they are able to help solve cold cases that have been sitting for years and years. Those are things that are gratifying, the garbage that goes on with the supervisors is not gratifying. But through it all, Lisa Bailey had provided us with a wonderful look at her life and her time at the FBI. It is a book that we should all read, and we should all shake our head in wonderment that this still continues in our government and especially at the FBI. 4.5****

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