Mr. Jones

The Players



“The paranoid ’50s cracked open in unlikely places. Sleek, believable—essential too, like the missing pieces in a long abandoned puzzle.”

— Fred Stenson, author of The Great Karoo


“With consummate skill, Margaret Sweatman brilliantly replicates the Cold War with its pervasive atmosphere of paranoia and doom while seducing the reader’s empathy for her characters. Her novel may be ‘historical’ but it stands as a stark warning of the ways governments continue to invade and trouble our private lives.”

— Mark Frutkin, author of Fabrizio’s Return


Mr. Jones is suspenseful, evocative and astonishing in scope. Here is communism as it unfolds in Canada during the 1950s and 1960s, the repercussions of the cold war, espionage, and the explosive co-mingling of idealism and ambition. Margaret Sweatman writes all the dangerous fires – bravery, betrayal, loyalty and love. Prose as lyrical and transparent as Ondaatje, as politically astute and fiercely clear-eyed as Didion. This novel burns bright.”

— Lisa Moore, author of February and Caught


“One thing is certain: Emmett Jones is a fascinating new protagonist on the Canadian literary scene.”

— Linda Diebel, Toronto Star

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“Margaret Sweatman outdoes herself again in scope and skill level in Mr. Jones.”

— Elizabeth Hopkins, Winnipeg Free Press

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“a story of the clash between private lives and politics at a time when it was impossible to separate the two.”

— Tom Jokinen, The Globe and Mail

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“It is the relationships between her cast of characters that truly forms the arc of this story, their loyalties to one another as well as their betrayals.”

— Elin Thordarson, The Winnipeg Review

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“Mr. Jones is an electric, compelling, scintillating read.”

— Kerry Clare, Pickle Me This

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“One of the pleasures of this novel is Sweatman’s vivid evocation of the fear and paranoia that pervaded the Cold War from 1946 to the early 1960s.”

— Bob Douglas, Critics at Large

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Goose Lane Editions, 2014


Emmett Jones is adrift. The war is over. After flying bombers in WWII, he searches once again for purpose. Then he meets Suzanne and the man she’s in love with, the charismatic John Norfield, a former POW who is enthralled with communism.

Set in the 1950s and early 1960s, a period of rampant paranoia, Mr. Jones peels back the polite veneer of Canadian society to reveal a nation willing to sacrifice its own. A time of fear, a time of “peace” at the onset of the nuclear age — it is the era of McCarthyism, when governments alleged there was a communist under every bed and a traitor in every friend.

Although Norfield disappears and Emmett begins a life with Suzanne, and a career in international politics, Emmett’s relationship with Norfield eventually makes him a target of suspicion. His life comes under scrutiny by the RCMP and the FBI. Soon his marriage, his job, even his child are the target of investigation. And as the nuclear arms race heats up, Emmett Jones sets himself on a path that will risk the lives of everyone he holds dear.

Evoking the classic works of John le Carré and Graham Greene, Mr. Jones explores the murky world of espionage at a time when governments threatened annihilation while also training housewives in the proper techniques for sweeping up radioactive dust.

In a novel that is disturbingly relevant today, Margaret Sweatman demonstrates that truth is malleable and that the world that we create is rarely what it seems.


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