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The Good Nurse: A True Story of Medicine, Madness, and Murder | [Charles Graeber]

The Good Nurse: A True Story of Medicine, Madness, and Murder

After his December 2003 arrest, registered nurse Charlie Cullen was quickly dubbed "The Angel of Death" by the media. But Cullen was no mercy killer, nor was he a simple monster. He was a favorite son, husband, beloved father, best friend, and celebrated caregiver. Implicated in the deaths of as many as 300 patients, he was also perhaps the most prolific serial killer in American history.
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Publisher's Summary

After his December 2003 arrest, registered nurse Charlie Cullen was quickly dubbed "The Angel of Death" by the media. But Cullen was no mercy killer, nor was he a simple monster. He was a favorite son, husband, beloved father, best friend, and celebrated caregiver. Implicated in the deaths of as many as 300 patients, he was also perhaps the most prolific serial killer in American history.

Cullen's murderous career in the world's most trusted profession spanned 16 years and nine hospitals across New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

When, in March of 2006, Charles Cullen was marched from his final sentencing in an Allentown, Pennsylvania, courthouse into a waiting police van, it seemed certain that the chilling secrets of his life, career, and capture would disappear with him. Now, in a riveting piece of investigative journalism nearly 10 years in the making, journalist Charles Graeber presents the whole story for the first time. Based on hundreds of pages of previously unseen police records, interviews, wire-tap recordings and videotapes, as well as exclusive jailhouse conversations with Cullen himself and the confidential informant who helped bring him down, The Good Nurse weaves an urgent, terrifying tale of murder, friendship, and betrayal.

Graeber's portrait of Cullen depicts a surprisingly intelligent and complicated young man whose promising career was overwhelmed by his compulsion to kill, and whose shy demeanor masked a twisted interior life hidden even to his family and friends. Were it not for the hardboiled, unrelenting work of two former Newark homicide detectives racing to put together the pieces of Cullen's professional past, and a fellow nurse willing to put everything at risk, including her job and the safety of her children, there's no telling how many more lives could have been lost.

In the tradition of In Cold Blood, The Good Nurse does more than chronicle Cullen's deadly career and the breathless efforts to stop him; it paints an incredibly vivid portrait of madness and offers a penetrating look inside America's medical system. Harrowing and irresistibly paced, this book will make you look at medicine, hospitals, and the people who work in them, in an entirely different way.

©2013 Charles Graeber (P)2013 Hachette Audio

What Members Say

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  •  
    FanB14 01-11-14
    FanB14 01-11-14

    Short, Simple, No Spoilers

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "More Chilling than Murder?"

    Read great reviews on this one, so settled in to hear details about purposeful selection and murder of patients. What I discovered much to my delight and horror was the opposite. Charles Graeber writes from the perspective of a floating, non-judgmental narrator taking you through the events. I (and probably most of us) wanted to believe there was a reason he killed so many people. Was it for mercy or prejudice or hatred or a childhood traumatic event. When the answer is no, the story becomes creepier.

    My advice is not to read too much detail from the summary and especially other reviews giving you play-by-play analysis. There is no gore, the shock factor is a slow build. Listen and let the story unfold walking you through the hospital, a place of trust with administrators, nurses, and the mystery of medicine. Was this the perfect storm for a serial killer? You decide.

    56 of 57 people found this review helpful
  •  
    jc 05-28-13
    jc 05-28-13 Member Since 2015
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    "The Good Nurse gets it right"

    I have read or listened to dozens of true crime books written by authors who are considered to be the masters of the genre. And almost none of them can hold a candle to The Good Nurse for sheer entertainment value.

    As an aging attorney who started out in the District Attorney's office nearly 40 years ago, I am usually irritated to some degree by the non-nuanced manner that the criminal justice system is treated in books, TV shows, movies, etc. But Graeber hits the nail right on the head in The Good Nurse. And he does it all without pandering to the perpetrator, the families of the victims, or the cops who eventually solve the case--a claim that in my opinion can be made by only one other true crime author (Vincent Bugliosi). If there is any justice in the world, The Good Nurse will become a classic like Helter Skelter.

    And when I finished listening, I couldn't remember anything specific about the narration, which is exactly what I want--a narrator who delivers the goods and gets out of the way. Excellent job by Will Collyer.

    Looking forward to more books by Charles Graeber.

    21 of 22 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Douglas Auburn, WA, United States 03-07-14
    Douglas Auburn, WA, United States 03-07-14 Member Since 2008

    College English professor who loves classic literature, psychology, neurology and hates pop trash like Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey.

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    "Profoundly Chilling..."

    If you were entranced by the style of Robert Graysmith's Zodiac or Bugliosi's Helter Skelter, you will similarly appreciate the hypnotic writing of Charles Graeber (yes, it means "gravedigger" in German) in The Good Nurse... It is easy enough to (falsely) assure yourself about most dangers in life, but what if your caregiver, outwardly diligent and trustworthy, were a cold-blooded killer, a psychopath murdering those whose bodies are made vulnerable to his supposedly healing hands? And these events were recent. Cullen was only caught in 2003. This book will do for the hospital bed what Psycho did for the shower...

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jacqueline 04-18-13
    Jacqueline 04-18-13
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    "Death on the Night Shift"

    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!


    18 of 21 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kara STRONGSVILLE, OH, United States 05-06-13
    Kara STRONGSVILLE, OH, United States 05-06-13 Member Since 2014
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    "Chiling!"

    I agree, as a RN there are many small errors not only made by the narrator, but the author as well. Don't let that stop you. This is based on a true story, scary as that seems. The narrator's voice wasn't the issue for me, and I'm glad I went through with the purchase. This story will shock you at "the system" the hospitals used to cover their selves. The author did a great job with the psychological issues the nurse is having....denial or pure arrogance?

    Another book read in 2 days
    Enjoy!

    7 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Toya SAN ANTONIO, TX, United States 03-13-14
    Toya SAN ANTONIO, TX, United States 03-13-14 Member Since 2014

    Bookworms rule!

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    "Holy Canolli!"
    What made the experience of listening to The Good Nurse the most enjoyable?

    This book reads like a thriller. It reeled me in from page one and I found it hard stop listening. I've had many sleepless nights trying to keep my eyes (and ears) open for this incredible story. Horrific, amazing, scary, shocking....but an absolute must listen.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Good Nurse?

    While reading the description of patients receiving care on the burn unit, I cringed but couldn't stop reading.


    What does Will Collyer bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    His voice was perfect for the "character" he portrays in this book. There were many times when I got so deep into the reading that I had to remind myself that the person reading wasn't the perpetrator.


    If you could give The Good Nurse a new subtitle, what would it be?

    A story of a relentless serial killer.


    Any additional comments?

    Definitely recommended.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    gdkeyes 12-27-13
    gdkeyes 12-27-13
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    "Worth the credit"

    After reading past reviews I was worried I would be disappointed, but I'm glad I took the chance and used my credit. Yes, the narration is dry if not all out boring. Words are mispronounced etc. However, the story itself kept me listening. I could not get over how this killer could have been caught earlier but due to hospitals being more worried over lawsuits than patient's lives, he was passed on from hospital to hospital. It's sick how legal concerns are paramount to people within our hospitals. This story stands as an example.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Petersen Wheat Ridge, CO, United States 06-22-13
    Petersen Wheat Ridge, CO, United States 06-22-13 Member Since 2013
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    "Buy and read this book immediately!"

    Having been a Registered Nurse for the better part of 30 years, I was keenly interested in the subject matter of this book. I found the story to be terrifying not only from my perspective as a professional but as a patient. I don't want to say much more because I'd rather not spoil the story but I would recommend this book to everyone. The book is well written and the story so compelling that you will not want to put it down.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    clemmie 05-11-13
    clemmie 05-11-13
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    "Captivating and horrifying"
    What did you love best about The Good Nurse?

    To be able to peer inside the mind of America's most pervasive serial killer is a rare and distinctly unique experience... I love psychology and especially criminal psychology.


    Have you listened to any of Will Collyer’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    No - but I enjoyed it immensely


    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    DiK 12-28-13
    DiK 12-28-13
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    "Excellent"
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Good Nurse to be better than the print version?

    Can't say because I haven't read the book.


    Did the plot keep you on the edge of your seat? How?

    Indeed. By making me consider how lucky I have been when I have had to go to a hospital that I came out alive.


    Which character – as performed by Will Collyer – was your favorite?

    Amy


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    I felt no sympathy for the killer, nor the hospital administrators. But I did for Amy.


    Any additional comments?

    This book educates listeners they must be their own patient advocates. They must learn to question every pill, injection & food they are given. They must get from their doctor a written list of the medicines they will be given PRIOR to receiving them. The patient must ask why they are being given these medicines & how they will affect them as well as interact with other medication. Also how long they will need to receive the medicines & how often. If the patient is unable to do this, than they must try to ask a trusted family member or friend to provide this protection. As the writer points out more than once, medical accidents in hospitals happen. Much more often than the average person is aware of. That is the biggest worry. Add in the possibility of a nut case killing patients & one begins to see the risks involved & why its necessary to take all precautions to protect yourself when there is a need to be treated in the ER, or admitted to a hospital.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
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