The Good Nurse

nurseI rarely read true-crime books, but for some reason I picked up Charles Graeber’s The Good Nurse and couldn’t put it down.

The “good nurse” was Charlie Cullen, who over the course of 16 years worked in about a dozen different hospitals and killed hundreds of patients.  Although Cullen’s motivation is never made absolutely clear, it appears that he committed these murders primarily because he could.  And he could because of the hospitals where he worked, hospitals that—putting concern for public image above the responsibility for patients’ lives—dismissed him without passing along well-founded suspicions about him to police, licensing agencies, or subsequent employers.

The first half of the book is a bit slow, but the pace picks up once the police get involved, attempting to uncover evidence of Cullen’s crimes while working to prevent the still-employed nurse from taking more lives.  It’s an all-around horrifying tale, but I don’t know which is more horrifying: Nurse Cullen’s psychopathology or the hospitals’.

—Diane

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