The Good Nurse

A True Story of Medicine, Madness, and Murder
By Charles Graeber (Audiobook, 2013)
After his December 2003 arrest, registered nurse Charlie Cullen was quickly dubbed "The Angel of Death" by the media. But Cullen was no mercy killer, nor was he a simple monster. He was a favorite son, husband, beloved father, best friend, and celebrated caregiver. Implicated in the deaths of as many as 300 patients, he was also perhaps the most prolific serial killer in American history.

Cullen's murderous career in the world's most trusted profession spanned sixteen years and nine hospitals across New Jersey and Pennsylvania. When, in March of 2006, Charles Cullen was marched from his final sentencing in an Allentown, Pennsylvania, courthouse into a waiting police van, it seemed certain that the chilling secrets of his life, career, and capture would disappear with him. Now, in a riveting piece of investigative journalism nearly ten years in the making, journalist Charles Graeber presents the whole story for the first time. Based on hundreds of pages of previously unseen police records, interviews, wire-tap recordings and videotapes, as well as exclusive jailhouse conversations with Cullen himself and the confidential informant who helped bring him down, THE GOOD NURSE weaves an urgent, terrifying tale of murder, friendship, and betrayal.

Graeber's portrait of Cullen depicts a surprisingly intelligent and complicated young man whose promising career was overwhelmed by his compulsion to kill, and whose shy demeanor masked a twisted interior life hidden even to his family and friends. Were it not for the hardboiled, unrelenting work of two former Newark homicide detectives racing to put together the pieces of Cullen's professional past, and a fellow nurse willing to put everything at risk, including her job and the safety of her children, there's no telling how many more lives could have been lost.

In the tradition of In Cold Blood, THE GOOD NURSE does more than chronicle Cullen's deadly career and the breathless efforts to stop him; it paints an incredibly vivid portrait of madness and offers a penetrating look inside America's medical system. Harrowing and irresistibly paced, this book will make you look at medicine, hospitals, and the people who work in them, in an entirely different way.

After his December 2003 arrest, registered nurse Charlie Cullen was quickly dubbed "The Angel of Death" by the media. But Cullen was no mercy killer, nor was he a simple monster. He was a favorite son, husband, beloved father, best friend, and celebrated caregiver. Implicated in the deaths of as many as 300 patients, he was also perhaps the most prolific serial killer in American history.

Cullen's murderous career in the world's most trusted profession spanned sixteen years and nine hospitals across New Jersey and Pennsylvania. When, in March of 2006, Charles Cullen was marched from his final sentencing in an Allentown, Pennsylvania, courthouse into a waiting police van, it seemed certain that the chilling secrets of his life, career, and capture would disappear with him. Now, in a riveting piece of investigative journalism nearly ten years in the making, journalist Charles Graeber presents the whole story for the first time. Based on hundreds of pages of previously unseen police records, interviews, wire-tap recordings and videotapes, as well as exclusive jailhouse conversations with Cullen himself and the confidential informant who helped bring him down, THE GOOD NURSE weaves an urgent, terrifying tale of murder, friendship, and betrayal.

Graeber's portrait of Cullen depicts a surprisingly intelligent and complicated young man whose promising career was overwhelmed by his compulsion to kill, and whose shy demeanor masked a twisted interior life hidden even to his family and friends. Were it not for the hardboiled, unrelenting work of two former Newark homicide detectives racing to put together the pieces of Cullen's professional past, and a fellow nurse willing to put everything at risk, including her job and the safety of her children, there's no telling how many more lives could have been lost.

In the tradition of In Cold Blood, THE GOOD NURSE does more than chronicle Cullen's deadly career and the breathless efforts to stop him; it paints an incredibly vivid portrait of madness and offers a penetrating look inside America's medical system. Harrowing and irresistibly paced, this book will make you look at medicine, hospitals, and the people who work in them, in an entirely different way.

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.
  • "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"

  • "Over the course of his sixteen years, Charles Cullen had been the subject of dozens of complaints and disciplinary citations, and had endured four police investigations, two lie detector tests, perhaps twenty suicide attempts, and a lock-up, but none had blemished his professional record. He'd jumped from job to job at nine different hospitals and a nursing home, and been "let go," "terminated," or "asked to resign" at many of them. But both his Pennsylvania and New Jersey nursing licenses remained intact, and each time he filled out a new application, Nurse Cullen appeared to be an ideal hire. His attendance was perfect, his uniform pristine. He had experience in intensive care, critical care, cardiac care, ventilation, and burns. He medicated the living, was the first code responder when machines screamed over the dying, and exhibited origamilike artistry when plastic-wrapping the dead. He had no scheduling conflicts, didn't seem to attend movies or watch sports, and was willing, even eager, to work nights, weekends, and holidays . . . His fellow nurses considered him a gift from the scheduling gods, a hire almost too good to be true."

  • "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."

  • "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)."

  • "Graeber doesn't pull punches... A deeply unsettling addition to the true crime genre."

  • "Riveting"

  • "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."

  • "Absolutely frightening."

  • "Gripping."

  • "Alarming"

  • "Distinctive...Fascinating."

  • "The story is consistently incredible, but credit it you must, for it is the truth... I couldn't put this book down."

  • "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. "

  • "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."

  • "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."

  • "A literary thriller with legs... Meticulously crafted... a book that demonstrates the transportive power of literary journalism while simultaneously helping to restore its credibility."

  • "A remarkable new book...gripping and brilliantly written."

  • "A gripping look into a killer's mind...THE GOOD NURSE is as suspenseful as any crime novel."

Product Details

The Good Nurse
  • Publisher: Hachette Audio
  • Price: $25.98 US/$28.98 CAN
  • Audio Run Time: 660
  • ISBN-13: 9781611135527
  • On Sale Date: 04/15/2013
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