Review: The Good Nurse
At times nurse Charles Cullen seemed to be too good to be true. Since he was willing to work long hours and take shifts no one else wanted, his co-workers often thought of him as a godsend. His personal life was a wreck and it seemed he threw himself into his work. There was a dark side to Cullen, though, and patients were paying the price. He injected digoxin and insulin into IV bags, sometimes at random. He would steal lethal drugs and give them to patients, often with deadly outcomes. If anyone questioned him or became suspicious, he would simply move on.
Cullen had no trouble finding jobs and moved from hospital to hospital. Some of his co-workers and patients’ families became suspicious but his methods were so slick it was difficult to prove his guilt and police only did so with the help of one of his friends and co-workers. Cullen is responsible for between 40 and 400 deaths – possibly making him the most prolific serial killer in US history.
Gruesome at times, The Good Nurse, by Charles Graeber, is one scary book, mainly because it’s true. During his 16 year nursing career, Charles Cullen methodically killed patients. He claims to have done it out of mercy but many of the people he killed weren’t that ill and some of the deaths were random. It’s amazing that he was able to get away with it as long as he did. Reading this book has reinforced my desire to stay away from hospitals!
Graeber really did his homework before he wrote this book. Besides research, he was able to interview Cullen. The book is written in an accessible manner and there is no need to be familiar with medical terms to understand Cullen’s methods. It’s hard to say I enjoyed a book like this but I found it very compelling. I listened to the audio version of the book which is well narrated by Will Collyer. The audio version lasts approximately 11 and a half hours. I understand there are extensive footnotes in the print version that are worth reading but I didn’t feel like I missed anything by experiencing this on audio. If you enjoy true crime, you’ll want to pick The Good Nurse up!