Review: Intrigue in Istanbul (An Agnes Kelly Mystery, Book 1)


  • Title: Intrigue in Istanbul, An Agnes Kelly Mystery Adventure
  • Age Range: 8+
  • Grade Level: Middle School
  • Series: Agnes Kelly Mystery Adventure (Book 1)
  • Hardcover: 180 pages
  • Publication Date: December 25, 2015


Back Cover Blurb:  

    Everyone at the table is as surprised by Grandma’s little maneuver as I am, but I’m not looking at my relatives or even at Peggy, I’ve got my eyes glued on Grandma Agee. She’s reading Uncle Bob the riot act over at the dessert table…I’m concentrating hard on Grandma’s face, specifically her lips. But she’s turned ever so slightly away from me so I can only make out a bit of what she’s saying: “I told ya…” and “…button your lip.” among the finger wagging and eye scowling she’s giving poor Uncle Bob. 

With Grandma’s odd reaction and my dad being gone, unable to explain himself to me ever again, I feel an urgent need to find out is what in the world did he “get into” that Grandma Agee doesn’t want me to know about.


What I thought:

4 out of 5 bookworms

Before I get into the review, I would first like to point out what an intriguing (pardon the pun) title this is.  If I had picked up this book in a store, I would have immediately been drawn in by the title.  Kudos to the author for that.

Twelve year old Agnes Kelly’s father has recently died, and as the oldest, she expects her summer to be filled with chasing her younger brothers.  Suddenly, her summer changes drastically when Grandma Agee invites her to Istanbul on vacation.  But an overheard phone conversation leads Agnes to realize that her Irish grandmother is not in Istanbul for a break.  And perhaps the circumstances surrounding her father’s death were not what they all believed.

The story follows Agnes as she explores Istanbul, and her escapades around the city include beautiful structures from the past, disguises, and an elusive local boy.

What I love about this story is, first and foremost, Agnes.  She is such a great character.  She buds into a young spy as the book progresses and I love her obsession with knowledge.  The little definitions and explanations she drops throughout the book (the book is in first person, from Agnes’ point of view) are entertaining and informative, especially for middle schoolers.  Though the pace doesn’t pick up as quickly due to these small clarifications, they do become engaging as the book continues, not to mention the expansive vocabulary that is being taught surreptitiously.

I know there are many books that strive to be both interesting to children and teach them, but usually most children can see right through that (I know my younger siblings do!).  This book succeeds in keeping attention while teaching, and that is an unusual feat.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would most certainly read it again.  Christine Keleny has done a fabulous job and I will definitely recommend this book to middle schoolers.

With a flashlight under the covers,


4 thoughts on “Review: Intrigue in Istanbul (An Agnes Kelly Mystery, Book 1)

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