Bellman & True

Bellman & True by Desmond Lowden



A thrilling crime novel that became a cult movie, Bellman & True by Desmond Lowden sees computer engineer Hiller on the run with his 11-year-old stepson. However, they’re not fleeing the police but the East End robbery team who want information. Hiller gives it but he’s not yet off the hook for now he’s wanted by the Guv’nor, the Peterman, the Stoppo… and the Bellman. But it’s not the shotgun barrels staring him in the face that make Hiller go on the raid. It’s the boy. And Hiller’s nerve lasts until, in the highly technical defences of the National General Bank, things start to go wrong.



The man and the boy walked down the street with their cases. It was dark, October had come suddenly to London. And it was quiet, the Earl’s Court hotels were small and sad. One of them on the corner had a cold blue sign, Hotel Marina, and a card in the doorway saying Vacancies.



“Moving, affecting, exciting” – John Le Carre

“£2 million bank robbery.  Technical decoding passages lead up to a fast finish.  Told with plenty of imagination and neo-Graham Greene-ish atmosphere.” – Maurice Richardson, The Observer

“The robbery of an electronically guarded bank.  Behind the dismantling of burglar alarms and the cutting of cables, is a picture of a relationship threatened at every twist of the tale.  It is a journey through the underworld which also skirts the even stranger landscape of the heart.” – Matthew Coady, The Guardian

 “What makes Bellman and True unusual are its accoutrements: the scientist’s strange son; the sophisticated dialogue; the touch of poetry in the scientist’s mind; and Lowden’s assured writing. This bank caper is as cliff-hanging an episode as anybody is going to read this year.” – New York Times

“This book provided me with one of the most gratifying reading experiences I’ve had lately. The book is briskly paced, deftly executed, with brilliant dialog and a well-researched and richly detailed high-tech bank heist at its core. But what makes it truly unforgettable is the writing, which accomplishes its effects not with surface pyrotechnics but “writing from the inside”—i.e., developing its depth and richness and texture from fully imagining the characters, the setting, the situation, the action.” Spinetingler Magazine

“A book that is at once so chilling and so moving, is very rare.  I think of Graham Greene’s Brighton RockBellman and True deserves the comparison” – Dorothy Salisbury Davis

“Desmond Lowden has an intense and striking talent.  In Bellman and True it moves like controlled lightning through one of the fastest and most terrifying actions that, as a reader, I have ever been witness to.  Its centre is a major bank robbery, and at the centre of that is a cynical little boy whose survival is continually at stake, and whose beleaguered humanity simply refuses to let the reader go. Viva! “ – Ross Macdonald

“With economy, skill and dignity, Desmond Lowden tells a wrenching story of a man left out in the cold; it is a very fine novel” – George V Higgins

“Bellman and True is tremendous.  Vivid, terse, tense and tender, startlingly observed and very far from being superficial.” – Francis Clifford

“The author knows his electronics.  He makes this robbery a gripping story that holds you fascinated.  You won’t have read a book remotely like this before.  I thoroughly recommend this tale.” – Northamptonshire Evening Telegraph 

“Hiller, a computer scientist, falls into the hands of a gang of thieves.  They need his input to get past the alarm system of a bank with its £1,876,000, while Hiller only wants a safe exit with his step-son.  All raised to the highest common denominator of economy, efficiency, and tension.” – Kirkus Reviews, New York

Lowden can write rings around most of today’s mystery writers. His prose is terse, understated – you must pay attention to the overtones or risk missing important thematic ideas.  The tension during the robbery – and, later, when Hiller and the little boy try to escape – is nearly unbearable. The novel is as controlled a piece of writing as I have seen in a long while.” – Richard Langford





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