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

Charles Graeber. Hachette/Twelve, $26.99 (384p) ISBN 978-0-446-50529-1
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. Agent: Susan Golumb, the Susan Golomb Literary Agency. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 02/11/2013
Release date: 04/09/2013
Genre: Nonfiction
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