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Review: The Good Nurse

August 20, 2013

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!

Review copy provided by Hachette Books.  I am an Indiebound Affiliate.
33 Comments leave one →
  1. August 20, 2013 4:03 am

    Oh my, it’s frightening to know that type of person can get a job working with our loved ones without any trouble. How could it happen????(:

  2. sandynawrot permalink
    August 20, 2013 6:25 am

    As I’m reading your review, it suddenly dawned on me “OMG, this is a true story!!!”. Good Lord that is terrifying. You would hope the one place you are in safe hands is at a hospital! I’d probably boycott all hospitals, but I know I’d enjoy (?) this one. I like the true stories.

  3. August 20, 2013 6:58 am

    Compelling all right because it can happen at any time. Nurses and doctors can play God!

  4. August 20, 2013 7:24 am

    This sounds way too scary for me!

  5. Beth F permalink
    August 20, 2013 7:28 am

    Yikes!!!!!! That is one spooky thought.

  6. August 20, 2013 8:12 am

    I remember this story! CRAZY!

  7. August 20, 2013 8:37 am

    I remember when this was in the news. It would be too scary for me!

  8. August 20, 2013 8:43 am

    Oh my. That is just horrific and scary to think about!

  9. August 20, 2013 8:55 am

    My NJ bookie friend, Judy, just read this one recently and was raving about it. It’s such a shocking story, and true just adds to the mystery.

  10. August 20, 2013 9:08 am

    Scary is right! I remember hearing about this case but didn’t know there was a book.

  11. August 20, 2013 9:09 am

    I do enjoy reading True Crime and this sounds really interesting and terrifying!

  12. August 20, 2013 9:40 am

    Wow! Talk about a scary read – mainly because its true! This book would definitely freak me out and make me want to stay as far away from hospitals as I can. Of course, your review of the book also makes me really want to read it. Yikes!

  13. August 20, 2013 10:05 am

    I just saw this story on 60 Minutes and was horrified how easy it was from him to move on to the next job, even though there were suspicions about him. This book sounds fascinating. Also, I look forward to hearing what you think of One Thousand White Women. My book club read this last year and we really enjoyed it.

  14. techeditor permalink
    August 20, 2013 10:07 am

    I saw the story that “60 Minutes” did about this. The book has been on my wishlist since.

  15. talesofwhimsy permalink
    August 20, 2013 11:20 am

    OMG so creepy. It would probably make me paranoid about hospitals.

  16. August 20, 2013 12:22 pm

    I heard about this. That is so scary and I already hate hospitals so something like this happening doesn’t help. I’d love to listen to this one though!

  17. August 20, 2013 12:46 pm

    Horrifying to think someone would actually do such a thing! I don’t know if I could read this one.

  18. August 20, 2013 12:51 pm

    Excellent review! This does sound scary….

  19. August 20, 2013 1:32 pm

    Nope – don’t want to read this. Too scary, especially cause it’s true.

  20. Patty permalink
    August 20, 2013 2:48 pm

    I love creepy scary good…I think!!!

  21. August 20, 2013 3:02 pm

    Sounds like a good book- creepy though

  22. cherylmash permalink
    August 20, 2013 3:31 pm

    This is definitely going on my TBR list!!!! Thank you for introducing.

  23. August 20, 2013 5:46 pm

    True Crime is way too disturbing for me, though this does sound like a compelling read. Like you, I’m wondering how he got away with it for so long!

  24. August 20, 2013 6:56 pm

    Thanks for the great review. Quite scary.


  25. August 20, 2013 10:51 pm

    I can’t believe he got away with so many murders! This is not a book I’ll be reading. I prefer inspirational literature.

  26. Jennifer permalink
    August 20, 2013 11:58 pm

    Wow, the fact that this is a true story is quite disturbing and makes me fear hospitals! Still, i can understand a story like this being compelling as it certainly is unique!

  27. August 21, 2013 10:08 am

    Just reading your review has terrified me. I don’t think I could handle the book! Scary stuff.

  28. August 21, 2013 3:12 pm

    My mother loves true crime books so this sounds like one for her. It sounds too scary for me!

  29. August 21, 2013 5:53 pm

    This one would scare the bejeezus out of me right now! We rely on the good care of nurses while in such a vulnerable state and if it’s a bad one….especially a really and truly baaddd {evil} one, what’s a person to do?!?

  30. August 22, 2013 7:40 am

    This sounds creepy, but intriguing! I’ve seen it a few places recently and am thinking of giving it a try 🙂

  31. August 23, 2013 11:38 am

    I worked in health care for many years and I’ve been a patient in the past couple of years so I can understand how vulnerable patients are to a crazed person like this. Meanwhile, no one wants to think badly of a nurse who seems conscientious and hard-working. The majority of nurses are caring people with beautiful souls, but a person like this can much too easily go under the radar. His story fascinates me – even as I prepare for minor surgery and hope to go home the same day.

  32. drey72 permalink
    August 25, 2013 8:17 pm

    I don’t know that I’d want to read something this scary – and know it’s based on a true story. That’d give me nightmares! I prefer my scary stuff all made up… o.O

  33. September 15, 2013 4:33 pm

    This is too new for me to request the audio from our library system, but as soon as I am able, I will!

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