Even more than The Spear, The Jonah is a book packaged as a horror novel, yet reads for much of its length like a straightforward thriller. The supernatural element concerns the lead character Kelso, with the fact that he is a Jonah (i.e.: a walking bad luck magnet for those around him) being due to the malevolent influence of the ghost of his stillborn twin.
For the bulk of the novel however this aspect is kept very much in the background, with only a few flashbacks to previous tragedies in Kelso's past peppered amongst the regular chapters. Instead the first 200 pages concentrate on policeman Kelso going undercover in a fishing town trying to uncover a drug ring. This section is readable but fairly standard thriller territory, with no new ideas or twists. The initially frost pairing with a female agent that leads to a romance is obvious and predictable, and the identity of the local drug lord is never really in doubt.
It's only really in the last 50 pages that The Jonah picks up, with some great action scenes courtesy of some freak weather conditions, (though this does seem a little like a convenient deus ex machina to save the hero from otherwise certain doom). The final full-fledged appearance of Kelso's malevolent twin is fittingly macabre though, and there's a nice sting in the tale ending.
Some of Herbert's novels, even when enjoyable, can seem a little formulaic, and to his credit The Jonah doesn't feel like a retread of any of his previous books, but for my own personal tastes I could have done with a little more supernatural horror, and a little less mainstream police investigation.