Wednesday, November 06, 2013

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

In the 16 years Charles Cullen worked as a nurse in the critical and intensive care units of various New Jersey and Pennsylvania hospitals it is estimated that he killed upward of 300 patients. Yes, you read that right – 300. These were by no means mercy killings. They were random and deliberate, which probably ranks him right at the top as being the most heinous serial killer of all time. I was both captivated and frighteningly alarmed by this book that I simply couldn’t put down.

After securing exclusive interviews with Cullen and conducting exhaustive research, Charles Graeber creates a chilling tale of murder that takes the reader into the deranged world of a psychopath. The victims were killed by injection of lethal amounts of controlled drugs such as digoxin and insulin. But what’s so incredible is the ease with which Cullen could repeatedly obtain copious amounts of these drugs in order to commit his sinister deeds, all without being caught red-handed.

Suspicions surrounding him cropped up in every hospital he worked – patient death rates rose to unheard of levels during his shifts. Almost as frightening is how the hospitals seemed to be more concerned about safeguarding their reputation than protecting their patients. When red flags were raised around Cullen the hospital would simply dismiss him with little or no investigation. And then unbelievably they would provide a neutral if not a positive reference for Cullen when requested by his new employer.

The suspense builds in this riveting account as Graeber deftly lays out how detectives Tim Braun and Danny Baldwin diligently worked the case. It’s with the crucial assistance from Cullen’s friend and former colleague acting as an informer, that the investigators ultimately nail their man.

Look for The Good Nurse on the VBPL catalog. For any true crime enthusiast I also recommend Blind Eye: How the Medical Establishment Let a Doctor Get Away with Murder by James B. Stewart.


Anonymous said...

Scary stuff!

Diane Hall said...

Thanks for this review. I'm reading this now because I saw this review and the book is horrifying and very interesting. I grew up in West Orange and am very familiar with the North Jersey towns he lived and worked in... It blows my mind to read this!