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
I listen while I paint- classic or modern mysteries, true adventure, & books that inspire or motivate
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!
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.
I am the Evil Mama
I have to admit I had not heard of Charles Cullen and this was a very enjoyable nonfiction book that I would recommend to true crime lovers!
If the story had gone into a little more detail and the narrator had checked the pronunciation of the term "dig" which is pronounced dij - a shortened version of the word digitalis, not dig like making a hole in the ground. For me (I am a nurse) it was exceedingly irritating and distracting to hear "dig" instead of "dij" every few minutes.
Maybe, it seemed that he skimmed over a lot of what could have been included, such as personal interviews.
Incompetent, otherwise good voice, good interpretation.
Yes, I did find the story intriguing.
This book is about a nurse who is a psychopath...I would expect the narrator to have taken the time-and the editor to have made certain of the medical terms and pronunciation. I would conservatively guess that the term "dig" as an abbreviation for the drug Digoxin was used more than 200 times in this book-the narrator, who was able to pronounce the full name of the drug mispronounced the abbreviation "dig" to sound like -to dig a hole, when in fact the first three letters of the name Digoxin when abbreviated sound JUST like the Drug name so should sound like "DIJ" -I wouldn't have made such a big deal of it except that the word is used SO frequently I started to struggle to even listen to the story...which is just an account of some horrible man killing people as a hobby and calling it nursing. I thought that I was going to learn something about what this person was thinking and all it is is the author retelling a news article and adding some "feelings" that he sort of assumed were there. Completely awful book-RETURN.
I would not recommend the audio-book. I do recommend the text-version.
I think that the criteria for choosing the narrator of this book should have been an actor familiar with proper pronunciation of healthcare terminology and possibly experience in healthcare. I felt the narrator's discomfort with the subject matter, the characterizations and the medications so crucial to the story.
The short form of "Digoxin" is pronounced "didge" not "dig". A "Q.R.S." is not a "O.R.S." An injection of Xanax 8mg is unheard of as Xanax is not available as an injectable.
Say something about yourself!
The tough questions weren't addressed. Why did he slip through the medical and mental health care system after all those suicide gestures? How does the threat of lawsuits rule the decisions and policies of hospitals? Those are the real stories of import to our society, completely ignored. And the "dig" flaw in narration is no small point, someone made a bad decision to let this go to market as is.
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
A good read of a haunting story about how demented people can be. It is hard to tell who is worse, the medical establishments or the mass murderer. If you like true-life murder mysteries, this is a good one.
Every medical professional (including nursing and medical students) in the country knows that the spoken abbreviation for digoxin is pronounced "didge". This was so distracting and unprofessional that I believe that it should be corrected.
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