The Beatle Bandit

By (author): Nate Hendley

The sensational true story of how a bank robber killed a man in a wild shootout, sparking a national debate around gun control and the death penalty.

WINNER of the 2022 Brass Knuckles Award for Best Nonfiction Crime Book

On July 24, 1964, twenty-four-year-old Matthew Kerry Smith disguised himself with a mask and a Beatle wig, hoisted a semi-automatic rifle, then held up a bank in North York, Ontario.

The intelligent but troubled son of a businessman and mentally ill mother, Smith was a navy veteran with a young Indigenous wife and a hazy plan for violent revolution.

Outside the bank, Smith was confronted by Jack Blanc, a former member of the Canadian and Israeli armies, who brandished a revolver. During a wild shootout, Blanc was killed, and Smith escaped ? only to become the object of the largest manhunt in the history of the Metropolitan Toronto Police Force.

Dubbed ?The Beatle Bandit,? Smith was eventually captured, tried, and sentenced to hang. His murderous rampage had tragic consequences for multiple families and fuelled a national debate about the death penalty, gun control, and the insanity defence.

AUTHOR

Nate Hendley

Nate Hendley is a journalist and author of several books, primarily on crime-related subjects. His book, The Beatle Bandit (about a murderous 1964 bank heist) won the Crime Writers of Canada Award of Excellence for Non-Fiction in 2022. He lives in Toronto.


Reviews

Hendley tells the story as though he were writing a crime novel; an apt read-alike might be Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood, with which The Beatle Bandit shares a journalistic style and a perceptive analysis of people and events. First-rate true crime.
– Booklist

Hendley does a fine job putting Smith?s crimes in the context of Canadian culture decades ago. Students of true crime won?t want to miss this thoughtful book.
– Publishers Weekly

With this absorbing, deeply researched tale of a troubled, gun-obsessed bank robber-turned-killer in 1960s Toronto, veteran true crime writer Nate Hendley has scored another triumph.
– Dean Jobb, author of The Case of the Murderous Dr. Cream and Empire of Deception

A fascinating, bizarre, important story told by one of the country’s top true crime writers. What’s not to enjoy? The Beatle Bandit is a hit.
– Peter Edwards, Toronto Star crime reporter and co-author of The Wolfpack: the Millennial Mobsters who brought Chaos and the Cartels to the Canadian Underworld

The Beatle Bandit is a fascinating true crime story that weaves meticulously researched facts and compassionate observations into a gripping narrative that is as much historical as entertaining. Nate Hendley?s eye for detail provides the reader with an engaging account of life in 1960s Toronto, a bank robbery gone bad, mental illness, the Canadian judicial system, and the individuals who were a part of those places.
– Desmond P. Ryan, Retired Toronto Police Detective and author of The Mike O?Shea Crime Fiction Series and The Mary-Margaret Cozy Series

In his compelling new true crime book, Nate Hendley walks us through a case that roiled the peaceable province of Ontario in the mid-1960s. At centre stage is a troubled young man facing the death penalty for a murder committed in the course of an armed and violent bank robbery. As the tragedy unfolds, Hendley demonstrates with lucidity and empathy that when it comes to mental illness, sadly, there are no simple answers.
– Lorna Poplak, author of The Don: The Story of Toronto?s Infamous Jail

Nate Hendley has written a page-turner with The Beatle Bandit, about Toronto bank robber Matthew Kerry Smith, who donned a Beatle wig when robbing banks in the mid-1960s Beatles? era. Hendley?s background as a journalist and narrative writing skills bring to life Smith?s story from childhood into adulthood.
– Sharon A. Crawford, author of The Enemies Within Us: a Memoir

With The Beatle Bandit, Nate Hendley does a splendid job reconstructing the life and crimes of one of Canada?s most unusual bank robbers, Matthew Kerry Smith. Known as ?Toronto the Good? in the early sixties, violent crimes were few and far between, and murders committed during the course of bank robberies were rare. Hendley?s book paints a vibrant portrait of a city on the brink of becoming a world-renowned metropolis, a deeply disturbed young man, and the debate over capital punishment.
– Robert J. Hoshowsky, author, The Last to Die: Ronald Turpin, Arthur Lucas, and the End of Capital Punishment in Canada

The Beatle Bandit is a fascinating, brutal, unflinching true crime story, shorn of sensationalism, which will thrill you and anger you in equal measure.
– Kid Ferrous Reviews

Nate Hendley is a great storyteller and tells this true crime story as it should be; facts, stats, first-hand witnesses, and news reports of the time.


– Viva La Books

Excels at unpacking the crime in light of the time setting in which it occurred? Highly recommended for readers of the true-crime genre.
– Miramichi Reader

This book is a must read for anyone looking for contentious and responsible true crime.
– True Crime Index

Hendley is a clean, crisp writer who knows how to pace a story.
– Winnipeg Free Press

An absorbing true life story that reads with all the drama of a fiction novel…a compelling and informative read from cover to cover.


– Midwest Book Review

Hendley writes like a reporter, sticking to the facts, with a clear sense of how to pace a story in order to keep readers turning pages…a solid addition to the true-crime canon.
– Literary Review of Canada

Awards

  • Brass Knuckles Award for Best Nonfiction Crime Book (Crime Writers of Canada) 2022, Winner
  • Heritage Toronto Book Award 2022, Nominated
  • Excerpts & Samples ×
    The sensational true story of how a bank robber killed a man in a wild shootout, sparking a national debate around gun control and the death penalty.

    WINNER of the 2022 Brass Knuckles Award for Best Nonfiction Crime Book


    On July 24, 1964, twenty-four-year-old Matthew Kerry Smith disguised himself with a mask and a Beatle wig, hoisted a semi-automatic rifle, then held up a bank in North York, Ontario.

    The intelligent but troubled son of a businessman and mentally ill mother, Smith was a navy veteran with a young Indigenous wife and a hazy plan for violent revolution.

    Outside the bank, Smith was confronted by Jack Blanc, a former member of the Canadian and Israeli armies, who brandished a revolver. During a wild shootout, Blanc was killed, and Smith escaped ? only to become the object of the largest manhunt in the history of the Metropolitan Toronto Police Force.

    Dubbed ?The Beatle Bandit,? Smith was eventually captured, tried, and sentenced to hang. His murderous rampage had tragic consequences for multiple families and fuelled a national debate about the death penalty, gun control, and the insanity defence.

    Reader Reviews

    Details

    Dimensions:

    216 Pages
    8.5in * 5.5in * 1in
    310gr

    Published:

    November 16, 2021

    City of Publication:

    Toronto

    Country of Publication:

    CA

    Publisher:

    Dundurn Press

    ISBN:

    9781459748101

    Book Subjects:

    TRUE CRIME / Heists & Robberies

    Featured In:

    All Books

    Language:

    eng

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