A mysterious depiction of masked revelers at the Venice carnival hangs in the college rooms of Oliver's old professor at Cambridge. On this cold winter's night, as they sip whisky by the fire, the picture's eerie secret is revealed by the ageing don. The dark art of the Venetian scene, instead of imitating life, has the power to entrap it! To stare into the painting is to play dangerously with unseen demons, to become victim to its macabre beauty.
...... from the inner front cover.
FIRST SENTENCE (from the prologue): The story was told to me by my old tutor, Theo Parmitter, as we sat beside the fire in his college rooms one bitterly cold January night.
MEMORABLE MOMENT: It was the face of my father-in-law, so lately, so suddenly dead. It was his exact likeness save that it wore an expression I had never seen him wear, one full of fear and desperation, of panic. Horror? Yes, even horror.
If you like good old fashioned classical ghost stories such as Dracula and The Picture of Dorian Gray then there is every chance you will love Susan Hill's The Man In the Picture.
At only 145 pages long this is more of a novella than a book and is quite easily read in one sitting - partly because it is so short but mainly because, once started, you become so involved in the story that you don't want to put it down.
Truly gripping, this is a wonderfully psychological thriller, full of sinister intent that had me shivering from almost the first sentence to the chilling ending. I'd recommend it as a book that you must read .... just not to close to bedtime and certainly not in a room with old paintings hanging on its walls.
The Man In The Picture was a Oxford Centre Reading Group read.