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The Jonah

Novel by James Herbert (England) 1981.

Jim Kelso is a police detective and a good one. But whenever he is involved in anything, something always goes wrong. It's never his fault, but it he's always there when it happens. Under pressure from his colleagues who see him as a jinx, his boss transfers him to the drug squad to work undercover investigating a small town on the East coast, suspected of being a centre for importing drugs. He ends up working with a customs official, Ellie Shepherd, and he ends up finding himself more scared of bringing her bad luck than he is of getting killed in the course of his work.

A much brighter (if that word can be used in the context of a horror novel) and relaxed work than Herbert's last claustrophobic offering, The Dark that reflects the author's mood of the time as well as that book did. The characters can joke with each other, indulge in love scenes and there are generally happy moments where they can relax. Not that this is all sweetness and light, the concept of the Jonah itself is a suitably horrific one which works well, but it really only makes an appearance at the very end of the book. This is mainly why this is one of Herbert's worst books: his normal talent for tight plot making is not in evidence here. The detective work is sloppy: Kelso should have worked it all out a long while before he did; and though this is presumably meant as a horror novel, there's no real horror until the climax. Merely average fodder from the king of British horror.


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