Saturday, November 28, 2015

[Review] The Good Nurse by Charles Graeber

The Good Nurse: A True Story of Medicine, Madness, and Murder by Charles Graeber
Publisher: Twelve
Publishing Date: April 15, 2013
276 Pages
Format: hardcover, library
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
Goodreads rating: 3 stars


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 sixteen 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 ten 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.

My Review

A co-worker of mine told me about this book because she's been meaning to read it for a while. And because I work in the legal field and medical field a little, I was very interested. I grabbed a copy of this from my library and dove right in. I didn't know too much about this book when I started except that it was about a nurse who killed patients, but I soon found out a lot more. 

This was an interesting book. Charles Cullen first started as a nurse in the late 1980's and continued to practice until the early 2000's. Throughout that time, he worked in 9 or 10 different facilities, and killed people at all of those. I found it very intriguing how he stole the medication, how he chose patients (sometimes chose them, sometimes left it up to whoever got a specific IV bag), and how he didn't get caught for so long! So many facilities had concerns about him and he was often involved in internal investigations. But because of the lack of technology in those times, and the nature of the medical field, they couldn't prove that he was actually killing patients. It took many years before everything was out in the open and he finally admitted to killing about 40 patients, though some experts say it was as many as 400. 

It's always fascinating to get into the minds of killers even though many won't admit to why they did it. I thought this author did a pretty good job laying out all the facts, keeping my interest, and showing Cullen's true, cold character. Interesting read and if you like true crime or medical crime, I would suggest picking this up. 

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