Books are windows into other worlds--and listening is my favorite way to get there!
This is a chilling account of how one nurse, Charlie Cullen, was able to get away with killing hundreds of patients while the medical system failed to do anything about it. If not for the bravery of some hospital staff who risked their jobs to get the information to authorities, this nurse would likely still be working the night shift today, and killing when the mood would strike.
Written in the style of In Cold Blood, the author lays out the details of Charlie Cullen's life. He was a very sad, lonely, and troubled person who had a horrific childhood. He attempted suicide many times, starting young in life. Eventually joining the Navy to escape his home life, he then went to nursing school. Upon graduating, it was easy to get jobs where he usually requested to work the night shifts. He started killing, not as any sympathetic reason for patient's who were suffering, but more to make himself feel better and relieve stress. As time went by, and it was so easy to inject IV bags with drugs such as insulin, or heart medication, he just kept doing it. At times he would simply inject several IV bags at one time, not knowing or caring which patient would be on the fatal end of his actions. He learned to "fit in" at the many different hospitals where he worked by being helpful and always available to take extra shifts.
Over approximately 16 years and nine different hospitals, deaths occurred during his shifts far above what was normal. Although he was suspected of causing the deaths, after a few attempts at investigating with failed results, he was either forced to quit, or just "let go" and usually given neutral references to get rid of him. It turns out, the hospitals did not want to lose their good standing (to say nothing of the lawsuits that would ensue), and so just passed the problem on to the next one. Each hospital in turn, did the very same thing.
The two detectives who eventually investigated and brought justice to the families who lost loved ones, should be rewarded, along with the one hospital employee who risked her job to do the right thing.
Very well written, this true story kept me listening for hours at a time. Although some of the details were difficult to hear, I think it is an important book, and everyone should be aware of what can happen in places we think of as safe-- where we all go for help and healing--hospitals!
Dad, tech executive, frequent flyer and driver and avid audiobook listener. Follow me on Twitter at @blakesteck.
If you've seen Billy Corben's underground success documentary, Cocaine Cowboys, you're familiar with Jon Roberts, the sharp-witted businessman and cocaine smuggler. While watching Corben's documentary, you get the sense that Roberts wasn't the violent type, but rather a logistics man and true businessman amongst Columbian cartel maniacs. Perhaps nothing could be further from the truth.
Jon Roberts, by his own admission, is pure evil. His frank discussion of murders and the violence associated with the importation and marketing of billion dollars worth of cocaine for the Medellin cartel comes across like Satan dictating his memoirs. Jon's account of growing up in the New York mafia, his early family life and his adolescence spent hustling dealers on the streets give you insight into the path he chose.
While there are few that would admit to following in his footsteps, the tell-all account proves fascinating, particularly when subsidized by commentary from the stories central characters, including Jon's sister, Judy, Jon's smuggling partner, Mickey Munday, and numerous childhood friends, lawyers and crime partners. The depth of political and judicial corruption is astounding and shows the true underpinnings of power, narcotics and money in the modern era.
Jon's story is shocking, gripping-- and at times, particularly in the Vietnam area, may be hard to sit through. I listened to the majority of this book while on a road trip, occasionally I found myself fast forwarding as Jon's account of murdering and torturing VC soldiers proved too horrifying for those riding with me. That aside, it sheds further light on the development of the Jon Roberts of the early-80s.
Evan Wright does a great job of attempting to independently confirm the majority of Roberts' unbelievable stories-- either through news clippings of the day, or directly from those associated with a specific narrative. In many cases the author is able to corroborate Roberts' story, in cases where a participant has a contrasting recollection of the events, the author is careful to provide that individual the opportunity to share their side of the story.
All in all, if you were a fan of Cocaine Cowboys, you might find yourself wading through 75% of the story before you come across familiar territory and characters. Nonetheless, the first three-quarters of the book is just as interesting and would make a fantastic film.