*Sigh*. This book has really annoyed me. It is a very slight tale indeed and yet retails at a gargantuan £9.99! (Good job I borrowed it from the library instead!) This smacks of exploitation of Woman in Black's legions of fans. Not having read that esteemed tome yet, nor seen a stage version, I can't comment on whether The Man in the Picture is a dip in form or more of the same from Hill.
On the plus side, Hill shows she is quite competent in apeing the style and subject matter of M.R. James. And while I can begrudgingly accept that he was a pioneer of this type of fiction, I have to say I'm left quite cold by his stories. (Not in a spine-tingling way!) I much prefer Bram Stoker's novels or Dickens' ghost stories for olde-worlde chills.
So, yes, despite having some storytelling facility, Hill squanders it on a story with very little originality, stock characters and less fear factor than your average episode of Buffy or Scooby Doo! The lazy plotting, the Miss Havishamesque character of the nonogenarian Countess and the generous smattering of cliche throughout this story really aren't good enough. (Incidentally, Stephen King's latest Duma Key - which happens to revolve around the horror of art among other things - also has a Havishamesque character, but at least her backstory is well fleshed-out and genuinely disturbing.)
Supernatural fiction has evolved into a far more subtle and surprising and interesting and multi-layered beast these days compared to the Victorian exponents of the genre. Check out the novels of Phil Rickman or Stephen King (of course) or early Clive Barker or Koji Suzuki or even James Herbert to be truly frightened. And the almost 40-year-old Exorcist by William Peter Blatty is a far, far superior slice of literary horror than this trifling effort by Susan Hill.