The Beatle Bandit: A Serial Bank Robber’s Deadly Heist, a Cross-Country Manhunt, and the Insanity Plea that Shook the Nation by Nate Hendley

There have been several excellent true crime books reviewed here at The Miramichi Reader recently, such as those by Dean Jobb and now another great Canadian true crime author, Nate Hendley, has just released his latest, The Beatle Bandit which takes us back to a bank robbery and a murder in North York Ontario on a hot July morning in 1964. Today, one’s mental state would be questioned if they tried to rob a bank, what with video surveillance, alarms, information sharing between police forces, and the Internet poised to spread the news at lightning speed. But, back in 1964, it would appear that a bank robbery was not such a risky undertaking. Just walk in and demand the money. That’s what Matthew Kerry Smith did, and he was successful to a certain point, remaining at large for some time until some dogged police work and a little luck paid off.

However, on that fateful July day, things got complicated when an ex-army civilian customer took it upon himself to try and stop Smith, AKA “The Beatle Bandit”. Jack Blanc, using one of the bank’s revolvers (yes, banks kept guns onsite in those days) tried to shoot Smith, but Smith, armed with a semi-automatic weapon shot Blanc dead.

“Forensic science being what it was in those days, combined with paper files and limited information sharing, it took time to solve the mess that The Beatle Bandit created.”

North York Police had an unidentified bank robber and a murderer on their hands at this point. Forensic science being what it was in those days, combined with paper files and limited information sharing, it took time to solve the mess that The Beatle Bandit created.

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Nate Hendley was contacted by a man who had planned to write a book about the Beatle Bandit but never got around to actually writing it despite having banker boxes full of information. Torontonian Nate Hendley was the obvious choice as his authorship of dozens of true crime books speaks for itself. While Mr. Hendley had a lot of the legwork of research gifted to him, as it were, it still needed to be assembled into a story that readers would find interesting. This has been admirably accomplished by Mr. Hendley and published by Dundurn Press. Mr. Hendley’s writing style is relaxed with a pleasant tone and as such is very readable. He excels at unpacking the crime in light of the time setting in which it occurred, particularly regarding the laws (or lack of them) at the time. (There was still the death penalty, for example). Highly recommended for readers of the true-crime genre.

Nate Hendley is a journalist and author. His books include The Boy on the BicycleThe Big Con, and Bonnie and Clyde. He lives in Toronto.

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Dundurn Press (Nov. 16 2021)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 216 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1459748107
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1459748101

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Paul Truster
Paul Truster
December 14, 2021 15:29

Astute review. In case your readers wonder why Smith was dubbed “the Beatle Bandit”, it was because, on the occasion of that robbery, which took place during the first summer of Beatlemania, he wore a Beatle wig as part of his disguise. ?