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The Good Nurse: A True Story of Medicine, Madness, and Murder Hardcover – April 15, 2013
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"Put this one on the shelf next to Ann Rule's classic about Ted Bundy, The Stranger Beside Me - it's that good. Grade: A"―Entertainment Weekly
"A stunning book...that should and does bring to mind In Cold Blood....the story appeals to prurient interests, as does any graphic tale of true crime. But THE GOOD NURSE succeeds in being about much more than Mr. Cullen's murderous kinks. The causes of his pathology are not interesting. But the eagerness of ambitious hospital administrators to cover up his misdeeds is revelatory. And the police investigation that brought him down is a thriller in every sense of that word."―Janet Maslin, New York Times
"The most terrifying book published this year. It is also one of the most thoughtful.... From a long series of conversations with Cullen, the detectives who solved the case and Amy, a nurse who once was Cullen's best friend and eventually got him to confess, among many other sources, Graeber has crafted a book that is a revelation. THE GOOD NURSE is gripping, sad, suspenseful, rhythmic and beautifully documented (the endnotes to this book are impressive)."―Kirkus Reviews
"Graeber doesn't pull punches... A deeply unsettling addition to the true crime genre."―Publishers Weekly
"A standout true-crime book, one that doubles as both a thrilling horror story and a cautionary tale, and frightens and frustrates in equal measure."―The Boston Globe
"Absolutely frightening."―The Detroit News
"The story is consistently incredible, but credit it you must, for it is the truth... I couldn't put this book down."―PopMatters
"Fascinating and frightening... A scary page turner about one man's quiet reign of terror, those dedicated and brave enough to end it, and the dangers that can lurk in the places we may feel safest. "―BookReporter
"A very scary book. It will reach out and grab you and not let you go. You will forgo food, talking, work, anything just to get to the climactic moment of this true crime story."―Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
"Engrossing...hard-to-put-down.. On one level, The Good Nurse is an absorbing story of a serial killer operating within the walls of what most view as a trusted institution. On another, it's an intriguing detective story. And on another it's an indictment of the hospital industry."―The New Jersey Star-Ledger
"A literary thriller with legs... Meticulously crafted... a book that demonstrates the transportive power of literary journalism while simultaneously helping to restore its credibility."―The Brooklyn Rail
"A remarkable new book...gripping and brilliantly written."―Healthcare Risk Management Review
"A gripping look into a killer's mind...THE GOOD NURSE is as suspenseful as any crime novel."―Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
About the Author
Charles Graeber is an award winning journalist and contributor to numerous publications including Wired, GQ, The New Yorker, New York Magazine, Vogue, Outside Magazine, Men's Journal, Bloomberg Businessweek, Travel + Leisure, and The New York Times, and an occasional guest on CNN, NPR, and other radio programs. As a former medical student and researcher, his co-authored papers appeared in scientific journals including Kidney International. His work has been honored with prizes including the Overseas Press Club award for outstanding international journalism, the New York Press Club prize for the year's best magazine spot news reportage, several National Magazine Award-nominations, and inclusion in numerous anthologies including The Best American Crime Writing, The Best American Science Writing, The Best American Business Writing and The Best of National Geographic Adventure. Born in Iowa, he now lives in Nantucket, MA and Brooklyn, NY. For more information, you can visit www.CharlesGraeber.com.
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This should be required reading for all hospital managers, at all levels. While I was reading it, I kept looking for something ... unusual, something surprising, other than the murders themselves. It all hung together, and it all made sense. Too much sense. I could imagine this happening, and couldn't see any way to stop it that didn't involve some person or circumstance that is extraordinary, that does something unexpected. That is what is most terrifying about this. That it is so incredibly REASONABLE and awful at the same time. I know, since then, there have been changes in the laws to balance the dynamic of the rights of the patients and the rights of the hospitals. Things like this still happen. There are still coverups, still this awful balance between who you are protecting. Something milder but similar happened here last year. Not murder, but child pornography. Not 16 years but 6 months. Still.
Aside from the credibility of the story itself, it is well told and well crafted. The detail is amazing. The consistent and orderly progression of the story, the murders, the movements, the investigation ... what will tip the balance? I can imagine the author surrounding himself with piles of papers and notes and outlines and recordings, trying to assemble all the myriad interviews and pieces of evidence into a coherent timeline, and then doing a second sort by the point of view, balancing and weighing the importance to the overall story.
One other reviewer remarked that he wished there had been more about the actual confession. My interpretation is that those details were integrated throughout the rest of the story, comingled with the author's own interviews with Charles and the police and the informant. I loved the extremely clever pun in the title, how who is the good nurse changes throughout the telling of the tale, the layers of meaning in "good nurse," layers which are unfolded throughout the telling of the tale.
It isn't a perfect book, but it is a Very Good Book and an Important Book. Don't read this book and think for one second that it couldn't happen again, or hasn't happened before. This is not a unique tale. This is perhaps the richest and most comprehensive telling of this type of series of events, and a call for change. Not just legal change, but a more widespread cultural change. Or, is there any change that could prevent things like this from happening? We can make it harder, more difficult, more challenging, but is it really possible to prevent it?
Aside from the above information, this poor-excuse for a nurse is a certifiable nut. Which brings me to another problem with medical care personnel, and that is mental stability. Mental stability is a problem in any profession not exclusively to medicine. There are often "nut jobs" in medicine that often are not counseled while causing workplace problems with other employee's and patients. There is no protection in any workplace from the actions of the undiagnosed mental problematic worker. While reading this book, and the summation by the author is the same as mine, how did this guy continue his behavior over ten years at multiple hospitals without being found out earlier? Was it a breakdown of management of the hospitals or was it that the hospitals were so hard up for employee's that they just purposely overlooked his work related problems and possessed behavior. Who knows for sure.