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.
Taking advantage of his exclusive access to serial killer Charles Cullen, journalist Graeber makes the most of the dramatic story of a nurse who began killing patients in 1991, and who eluded prosecution for over a decade. Experts estimate that he may have murdered up to 300 people before his arrest in 2003. Without excusing or condoning Cullen's crimes, the author presents a picture of the killer's horrific childhood, which may provide an explanation for his descent into violence a journey that began with animal cruelty and emotional withdrawal from his increasingly frightened wife. Cullen began tampering with IV bags at St. Barnabas Hospital in New Jersey, and patients on the road to recovery, or who were at least stable, started dropping like flies. Incredibly, Cullen was able to move from one nursing job to another even after being forced out of employment because of suspicions that he was responsible for the deaths. Graeber doesn't pull punches his description of the effects of insulin poisoning are chilling, and he needn't resort to hyperbole to damn the hospital administrators who failed to take it upon themselves to stop Cullen from claiming more lives. A deeply unsettling addition to the true crime genre.
Customer ReviewsSee All
I read this book in two sittings - I just couldn't put it down! It's well-written, faced paced, and suspenseful.
The Good Nurse
As a Certified Nurse Practitioner of 37 years, I find this story so shocking. It's hard to comprehend that a nurse in my medical field could be guilty of such horrendous acts. I can remember working 16-18 hours in CCU to save one patient, then going home and worrying about what I could have done better. This guy was a monster and should not be called a nurse.
The Good Nurse
Fascinating yet disturbing story.