The Beatle Bandit

A Serial Bank Robber’s Deadly Heist, a Cross-Country Manhunt, and the Insanity Plea that Shook the Nation

Reviewed by Tanja Hütter

Posted November 27, 2022

At the age of nine, Matthew Kerry Smith was already infatuated with bank robberies and with identifying the details that led to criminals getting caught. Highly intelligent, frequently bored, and generally unsociable, Smith evolved by the age of twenty into a young man on a troubled path, as he dabbled in bootlegging, auto theft, and bank heists.

In 1964, when he was only twenty-four, a bank robbery turned bad. The comedic flair of disguising himself with a wig styled after popular rock band The Beatles fell flat when Smith graduated to murder in a shootout that left a military veteran dead.

In The Beatle Bandit, popular true-crime author Nate Hendley crafts an intriguing story that is supported with photos and by materials including personal family letters. Hendley does not use imagined conversations, and he cites all his sources in the bibliography.

Crime-history buffs will appreciate this book, which is the winner of the 2022 Brass Knuckles Award for Best Nonfiction Crime Book from the Crime Writers of Canada. In it, Hendley offers a thorough exploration of a life that began with a challenging childhood and then took a turn for the worse, while family members helplessly watched the tragedy unfold.

Buy this book at Chapters-Indigo

This article originally appeared in the December 2022-January 2023 issue of Canada’s History.

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