Join the Toronto Public Library each month as they meet in person to discuss literature set in Toronto. See our city in a new light through stories about its past and present in works of fiction and history. March's book is 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.
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.