Reading Readit: Angels of Death 15



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Angels of Death: Disturbing Real Life Cases of Nurses and Doctors Who Kill by Emily Webb

Available for $31.25 via Booktopia


This collection of real crime cases relates the stories of some of the most appalling serial/mass killing crimes through the reporting eyes of Australian journalist Emily Webb. Angels of Death

Ms Webb’s style is journalistic, as you would expect, and frankly the crimes in themselves are horrid enough without adding emotive language. Although many of us are familiar with the case of Roger Dean, the nurse who murdered 11 people at a nursing home in Mount Druitt New South Wales, most of the cases reported are overseas-based.

Perhaps the worst feature is that all these murders were committed by people whose career, whose calling, is the preservation of life. It is chilling and shocking that the very people into whose hands we place our health and life, abuse the privilege. One nurse even cooed to her patients “it will be alright soon” as she gave them lethal injections.

The case of nurse, Beverley Allitt dubbed “Angel of Death” by the British press, was the impetus for the book, according to a comment on the author’s website. Allitt was convicted of murdering four children, attempting to murder three others, and causing grievous bodily harm to a further six children, for which she is serving 13 consecutive life sentences. In this instance the crimes were committed over only 59 days.

Another nurse, Genene Jones also murdered babies and young children in Texas, USA. Although convicted on 11 charges, the number of deaths caused by Jones may have been as high as 40. We have seen TV shows and movies which depict people with Munchhausen’s by Proxy, and may think it a not unusual disease. In fact it is quite rare, but Jones was one person with the disease.

Her devotion to her small charges was exceptional even to death, a death she caused. Her pursuit of her victims was relentless; when a child she had “saved” was sent to hospital for further investigations, she insisted she accompany them, with a chilling outcome.

But the most chilling of all, in my opinion, was Dr Harold Shipman, suspected of murdering more than 200 patients over 20 years. A GP, he used lethal doses of morphine to kill his victims and in 2000 was convicted of murdering 15 of his elderly patients.

Webb revealed the extent of her research when she said in interview, “I read all six reports of The Shipman Inquiry, which the British Government launched after his conviction, and that was probably some of the most horrifying reading I have done for research. Shipman was such a trusted, almost revered, part of his community and he totally abused that position. He even stole trinkets and keepsakes from his victims and sometimes sent sympathy notes and flowers to the families of the people he had murdered”.

“Where were the authorities in all these crimes?” I hear you ask. The most unbelievable aspect of the crimes is the number of opportunities the authorities, senior nurses, doctors, hospital administration, had to stop the killing. One newly graduated nurse reported one of her seniors and was sacked! The truth is that the system fears the loss of its reputation and the attendant monetary compensation. Instead they get rid of the offender and transfer the problem to another facility. Many of these murders were committed in multiple facilities!

In the media release accompanying this book it states, “Perhaps most alarming is that it could be argued healthcare serial killing is the easiest type of murder to commit … and get away with for years, or possible forever ..”.

Sincere thanks to Emily Webb, via her publisher The Five Mile Press for my ARC of this fascinating true crime book. Despite the subject matter, it is an insightful, well-researched look at the world of the medical serial killer.

Available for $31.25 via Booktopia


About the Author

Webb, Emily

Emily Webb is a News Corp Australia journalist and young mum whose passionate specialty is true crime. Emily lives in Melbourne’s outer eastern suburbs, with her detective husband.

An avid crime devotee, Emily’s crime blog,, has a growing cult following of fellow crime devotees.

Emily is the winner of the 2012 Leader Newspaper Editorial Awards for her controversial story on the new McDonald’s store locating in the tourist town of Tecoma.

Karen OBrien Hall

Karen O'Brien-Hall followed many careers in her life and loved each one! From accountancy to the hospitality industry, from managing an employment agency to Executive Assistant to the Chairman of a multi-national, when she retired Karen was in Public Relations. Whatever her career path at the time, Karen is a lifelong volunteer. Married to "the love of my life", John, her second love is community theatre where she enjoys acting and directing. Karen enjoys time in her garden and can always finds time to read, around 8 – 10 books a month. Her reviews appear on Starts at Sixty, Goodreads,The Reading Room and her own page

  1. Everyone loves a horrible story, please spend a moment to thank all those people who are not like this! We work 24/7 and put up with horrible trashy people who insult and degrade us for free. Many of which are self harming people just after attention. If you dont like it move to America where you are required to pay thousands of dollars just to save your life! And the nurses in the US are paid 4 times what we are in Australia.

    2 REPLY
    • Hello Linda, I’m sorry you have taken exception to the review of Angels of Death. Many of my family are nurses and doctors and in reviewing a book I was not impuning the integrity of any nurse or doctor other than those in the book. These are true crime reports, the people have been found guilty by a jury of their peers. I also note that the review mentions only one case in Australia. Please read the whole review, not just the headline above.

  2. I pity doctors and nurses damed if they do and damed if they don’t. Like school teachers and police get blamed for everything

    3 REPLY
    • Hello Joy, This is not an article about nurses, doctors, police or school teachers being “damned if they do and damned if they don’t”. It reports the horrendous crimes SOME nurses and doctors committed. Please read the whole review, the nurses and doctors about whom the book is written are all serial mass murderers.

    • Some Doctors and Nurses mass murderers?? Through out history there have been plenty of horrendous crimes committed,by people other than these professionals.I call it sensationalism!!!!Anything to get a book sold!!!

    • Sorry Karen O’Brien-Hall and Marion Steele I realise the article was about some horrible things that happen in the hospital but I was answering a question from Linda Radovic.

  3. This must have been a difficult book to read, all the more abhorrent when people we normally trust and admire betray their patients and professions,

  4. aaaas one who was a victim in 2006 ver minor op went into a coma next day in intenceif care for 6 weeks 3 mo nths in hospital going back to hospital every 6 months for endoscopy to check if I was alright 2010 the same doctor told me my op had come undone and I needed another op,hospital would not do the opwent to the pa in Brisbane put me on long waiting listiwould have been dead before I was seen to ,went to gold coast hospital ,a dr victer lew operated whit in 2 days to try and fix it 1.5 hrs needed ,took 9.5 hts had to remove my stomage as everthing had been sewen down flat cant sew as its beond the 3 years after first op

  5. I was in the private hospital at Strathfield a few years ago and the nurses were brilliant also in port Macquarie hospital

  6. Lovely note from the author Emily Webb ” …I am so chuffed to be featured on Starts at Sixty because it is such a well-read and excellent site. Thank you very much.”

  7. Karen, you are a better woman than I. I am afraid that I would never have gotten through it. Given that we are all getting older this might be a bit close to home for me to read. But gosh it is a great review from you!

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