The Dogs of Lenin

Fiction - Historical - Event/Era
574 Pages
Reviewed on 11/04/2022
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Romuald Dzemo for Readers' Favorite

The Dogs of Lenin by Linda Freeny is a wonderful meld of historical romance and mystery, following two compelling characters with a strong attraction for each other but with diametrically opposed philosophies. Lisa Danton and Grant Chandler are instantly drawn to each other from the first time they meet, even if they know they will disagree on a lot of things. Lisa has always wanted to pursue a career as a journalist for a network TV while Grant is an activist who hates the media and blames the media for the lies they propagate, thinking of them as enablers for the Russians who are out to take America. While Lisa grows her career as a journalist, Grant joins an underground network of activists where he connects with a remnant group from the previous government, working in secret. They uncover the names of Russian stooges and when they are ready to make an explosive revelation of the dangerous plans to take America, they discover they will need Lisa’s help as a journalist. Can Lisa be trusted and can the love they have for each other survive the ideological tensions between them?

This is a twisty romance with resonant political themes, and contemporary readers will not fail to appreciate its relevance in the context of the current political atmosphere in the United States. The author provides strong historical hints in this enthralling narrative while creating characters that are sophisticated and genuinely flawed. The passion between Lisa and Grant is one that will have readers rooting for them, but readers will wonder, as they follow these characters from page to page, if they can stay together till the end. The Dogs of Lenin is intricately plotted and explores the historical threat that Russia has always posed to the United States. Written in excellent prose and littered with great dialogues, this novel is a sure winner for fans of bold and confident writing and stories that are expertly executed.

Asher Syed

The Dogs of Lenin by Linda Freeny is a historical fiction novel set in the mid-to-late 20th century and revolving around two of its main characters, Grant Chandler and Lisa Danton. Lisa and Grant have little in common except for the passion they share with one another. Grant is embittered by virtually every aspect of general American idealism, the descendent of a Holocaust survivor and a 'political animal'. Lisa was raised with privilege and a dream of being a journalist. The relationship ends but there is a forever link between them. Lisa marries and sees her career bolt upward even as her personal life jolts between high and low, and Grant frequently haunts both. Just as Lisa gets the occasional whisper of Grant's post-relationship life, so does he with hers. Grant's life does not have the same predictability he sees with Lisa's, and his global footprint is equally impactful underground as hers is in the public eye. When circumstances and a mole pull them back into each other's sphere, it's a battle of ideologies and the entanglements that unknowingly bind them together that can also rip them, and quite literally their lives, apart.

Author Linda Freeny shows her hand as a methodical plot builder and capable storyteller in her suspense novel, The Dogs of Lenin. There are some real twists in there that I did not see coming from six-thousand miles away, even through characters that are thoroughly developed. Lisa is a stoic woman with her eye on the prize, and even if some of the personal choices she makes in her personal life didn't endear her to me, she was still engaging and really authentic. Grant is someone you desperately want to root for. The story is broken down into three parts, with Lisa's entire portion told first, followed by Grant's. The finale takes it all from a slow simmer to a proper rolling boil, and I think readers will find that the commitment required to push through some of the less polished aspects in the writing of the story itself is definitely worth it. There are surprising revelations and conflicts of interest that levy a strong internal taxes against Lisa and Grant but it is exciting to witness the threads Freeny has woven independently be tied back together so neatly. Entertaining, thought-provoking, and enjoyable. Recommended.

Jamie Michele

Placed in a sweeping timeline that encompasses the 1960s to the 1990s, The Dogs of Lenin by Linda Freeny explores two dynamic individuals during a turbulent time in American and world history. Lisa Danton is a daddy's girl from San Francisco's affluent Presidio Heights, just a few city blocks away from the East Bay's infamous “Billionaire's Row”. Her goal has always been journalism and heaven help the man who stands in her way. Interesting enough, that man might be Grant Chandler, a super-liberal, even by liberal San Francisco standards, who views the media critically and Lisa's family with disdain. Their engagement terminates abruptly and Lisa moves onward and upward with a secret of her own. Drifting apart is a decades-long event wherein Freeny gives them wings to fly in their own directions only to crash back into one another in a dramatic and dangerous way.

I grew up in San Francisco, was a journalism student who walked the cement jungle of SFSU, and married a British man. Any wonder why I was drawn to The Dogs of Lenin by Linda Freeny? I should hope not! It's one thing to be seduced by a story idea and another completely to be drawn into it. Long story short, and this is definitely a long story; I loved the novel. I think the most impressive part is how Freeny is able to tell two contrasting stories that do not converge until the end and readers are enmeshed to the point where they remember Lisa after a couple of hundred pages of just Grant. Lisa's timeline is exciting and her palpable ambition pays off. That woman moves from success to success like it's a game. To some, it might be. Grant has heartbreak and loss in his life; the type that is expected when someone dedicates their life to 'fighting the good fight'. Lisa is powerful and self-assured, and I love that Freeny lets her be the woman Lisa wants to be, and live her life on her own terms. Grant is afforded the same treatment but as a white male, it's not as profound. Lisa, in my opinion, also rebounds like a champ. This is a fun romp into history and a nuanced look into the marionette puppetry that is often the media, and a remarkable story.

K.C. Finn

The Dogs of Lenin is a work of fiction in the mystery, historical and romantic drama subgenres. It is suitable for mature young adult readers and adult readers alike and was penned by Linda Freeny. This quirky and original story follows central couple Lisa Danton and Grant Chandler through a tumultuous path in their shared lives when a powerful love between them forms the core narrative against a backdrop of media conspiracy and international conflict. What results is a thrilling novel filled with governmental secrets, dangerous liaisons, and a plot that pulls Lisa and Grant back together, but without them knowing if they can still trust one another.

Linda Freeny has crafted a superb novel that will have mystery and conspiracy readers on the edge of their seats right from the start. One of the most impressive features of this novel was its pacing, for although the work has a substantial plot, it doesn’t ever feel slow or grating to get through thanks to the smooth exposition in the narration and dialogue. The historical setting chronicles a great deal of tension over thirty years between Russia and the United States of America, and it is indeed an apt time to look back over old conflicts with fresh eyes, especially through the unique lens of journalism and conspiracy that Freeny weaves seamlessly into this tale. I would highly recommend The Dogs of Lenin for its well-constructed plot, great attention to detail, and interesting relationship dynamics that are sure to entertain readers from cover to cover.

Anelynde Smit

The Dogs of Lenin by Linda Freeny is a powerful story about two people living with the choices they have made. We follow Lisa and Grant, two people on different sides of the same coin. They are brought together by their love of politics and journalism but are soon torn apart by them in the end. Grant leaves Lisa to go on missions for his country, dictated to him by a man only known as Simon, landing him on the wrong side of the Berlin wall and captured and detained for a period of time. Only then does he learn of certain plans of the Soviet Union and how that pertains to Lisa. Lisa, on the other hand, has become a widely-watched news anchor and respected journalist. She has a secret that could rock Grant's foundations. Their reunion years later comes as a shock to Lisa as she sees the man she once loved changed by his political beliefs. Written before the Berlin wall fell, this is a poignant look at life for people in America reeling off the events in Germany and how the Soviet Union's actions reverberated throughout the world. You cannot help but become invested in their struggles and their victories.

The Dogs of Lenin by Linda Freeny was an interesting look at life from the point of two people who seemingly did not belong together but were so perfect at that moment. Grant was always going to be an extremist and Lisa was always going to challenge that. It made their arguments valid and realistic. I love how the book was told in three parts - first, Lisa's story, then Grant's story, and then the reunion and conflict. It was unlike any story I have read before. You could really find a side you believed in. Lisa's story was relatable - a climb and struggle to the top, only to be faced with Grant's information that changes her life. The characters were believable and their stories were intriguing. You felt the pain of Grant having to give up his love for his country. The story will stay with you long after you have finished it. I highly recommend this book.