In Suosso’s Lane, creative writer and journalist Robert Knox revisits the history of Plymouth, Massachusetts, “America’s hometown,” at a time when immigrant factory workers struggled to make their way in an America of long hours and low wages. The book traces the circumstances that led to the notorious trial and widely protested executions of Nicola Sacco and Plymouth dweller Bartolomeo Vanzetti, targeted by local authorities for their radical beliefs and framed for a factory payroll robbery and the shooting deaths of two security guards.
A recently published novel, Suosso’s Lane dials back the clock to revisit the flawed trial of Italian immigrant Bartolomeo Vanzetti, a believer in “the beautiful idea” of a classless society in which all would work for the common good. A sober-minded laborer, Vanzetti suffers from the exploitive treatment of industrial workers in the early decades of the twentieth century. Outraged by the greed and injustice that mar his idealistic hopes for the “New World,” he joins other anarchists in promoting strikes and preaching revolution. In 1920, during the infamous Red Scare period, Vanzetti and his comrade Nicola Sacco are framed by police looking for radicals and subsequently convicted of committing a spectacular daylight robbery and murder. After seven years in prison, even as millions of workers and intellectuals around the world rally to their cause, the two men are executed.
False Arrest >>> Skewed Trial >>> Conspiracy
Seventy years later, when a young history teacher moves into Vanzetti’s old house in Plymouth, Massachusetts, he learns of a letter that might prove Vanzetti’s innocence. His attempt to uncover the truth is both helped and hindered by the actions of a local conspiracy theorist, the octogenarian daughter of Vanzetti’s lover, and a shady developer, and brought to a climax by a suspicious fire during his search of an old Plymouth factory.
Praise for Suosso’s Lane
“The book is exemplary in so many respects: for the keenness of its informed historical imagination, an inventive structure in two periods separated by 80 years, for conveying a vivid sense of place, managing storytelling that is both intimate and epic with the invented story as involving and moving as the well-retold historical tale of injustice. It’s a mystery; it’s a love story; it’s a family story; it’s a young person’s story and an old one’s too. Romance, arson, murder, Plymouth, Boston, economic history, political intrigue, real-estate shenanigans. Points of view in great variety, from children to aging widows, young college instructors to a Ghanaian immigrant. It’s an ethically sensitive story that slights neither cynicism nor idealism. And it’s so well written – prose, but prose from a poet.”
— Robert Wexelblatt, author of the short story collection “Heiberg’s Twitch,” published poet and Boston University professor.
“A beautiful novel, written with compassion, journalistic balance, and a deep sense of justice. Sacco and Vanzetti’s story has never been more relevant. I hope this book finds the audience that it deserves…. I savored every word, and more importantly, I learned much.”
— Patry Francis, author of “The Orphans of Race Point” and “The Liar’s Diary”
“I loved this book! With an impressive mixture of solid research, imagination and clever writing, Robert Knox has recreated the Plymouth of Bartolomeo Vanzetti, who was executed along with Nicola Sacco, was executed — despite international outcry — in Boston in 1921. Knox skillfully revives the events leading up to their trial with scrupulous detail and creative writing. Knox has made the story come alive and points to its relevance today. Can’t wait for it to come out in print!”
— Reader Sara Altherr
“Suosso’s Lane is a terrific book. I can’t decide which I like best, the plot – or the writing itself. Bob Knox is a really fine writer…and a seasoned writer. this may be his first novel, but he is no stranger to the craft. It is not enough for him to belt out a story – which he can most assuredly do, but Bob carefully constructs each and every sentence so that it not only moves the story forward, but it is pleasing to the inner ear as the reader not only reads the words but hears their cadences. Well done…I give it 5 stars.”
— Judith Campbell, author of the Olympia Brown mystery series