Karalta by Mary Grant BruceKaralta

Karalta is the story of Jan Bentley, an English war evacuee who comes to Victoria, Australia for her safety.  Jan has no mother and her father is a sea captain.

Jan befriends Gerry Burton, who is a despatch rider in the Army.  He is based on Mary Grant Bruce’s son Jonathan, who served in World War II in the Australian Military Forces, and later the Second Australian Imperial Force’s 7th Division Signals Corps in the Middle East before Prime Minister John Curtin historically, and successfully, recalled the 7th Division home after the Japanese took Singapore.

Spies in Australia

Jan and Gerry learn that Fifth Column spies are leaking many military secrets.  Jan finds herself in a whirlwind of excitement as they try to solve the mystery.

‘ A long low cupboard ran along the side under a window; its top formed a desk where papers and photographic materials were kept.  Jan glanced at it in search of her prints.

They were not visible at first.  The papers on the desk were not in their usual orderly array, but scattered about—evidence of a man who had left his work in a hurry.  Jan poked them aside with one finger, unwilling to interfere with anything that might be private.  Then, half-hidden beneath some typescript, she caught sight of the familiar yellow packet.  She pulled it out.

Something else came with it, caught in the flap.  It held Jan’s eyes in spite of herself.  She stared down at it; a small flimsy sheet of blue paper, closely covered with writing.  It was a long while since she had seen words like that.  The writing was Mr Manders’s, in the violet ink he always used in his fountain-pen.  But the words were German. ‘

This was the second-last Mary Grant Bruce novel to be published in her lifetime.  She writes here at the peak of her literary skills.

The Trustee of The Mary Grant Bruce Family Trust owns the extant copyrights to this story.

First Published in: 1941
First Publisher: Angus and Robertson Limited
Places First Published: Sydney and London

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