The Tale of the Body Thief is the fourth novel in Anne Rice's The Vampire Chronicles series, following The Queen of the Damned. Published in 1992, it continues the adventures of Lestat, specifically his efforts to regain his lost humanity.
It is a contemporary novel set entirely in the late 20th century.
At the beginning of the story, Lestat grows depressed and becomes remorseful because of his vampiric nature. Although he tries to limit his victims to murderers, serial killers and other criminals, he nonetheless caves into temptation once in a while and kills an "innocent" or someone who he feels does not necessarily deserve to die. Lestat also suffers from constant nightmares concerning his late "daughter," Claudia, for whose death he blames himself.
The "coven" of vampires formed at the end of The Queen of the Damned has long since broken up, and Lestat has become extremely lonely. Among his only remaining friends is the mortal head of the Talamasca Caste, David Talbot, who is seventy-four years old. Although Lestat has repeatedly offered David the Dark Gift, David has always refused to become a vampire and keep Lestat company through eternity. Lonely and depressed, Lestat goes to the Gobi desert at dawn in a half-hearted suicide attempt. When he does not die, he goes to David's home in England to heal.
A mysterious figure, Raglan James - the eponymous "Body Thief" of the story - approaches Lestat with what seems to be a cure for his ennui and depression. James sends Lestat several messages hinting that he has the ability to switch bodies. Eventually, he proposes to Lestat that the two of them trade bodies for a day. Against the advice of other vampires and David Talbot, Lestat jumps at the opportunity. Unfortunately, James has no intention of ever switching back, and Lestat is forced to scheme to regain his body.
Lestat nearly dies after becoming human again - his new body is wracked by pneumonia, which he ignores during a tour of Washington D.C. in the middle of winter. He is saved by the care of a nun named Gretchen. He enjoys a short love affair with Gretchen before she returns to South America, where she works in a convent, and Lestat sets out in search of his body.
Lestat seeks help from other vampires but is completely ostracized by them. Marius is extremely angry at him for leaving such a powerful body to a thief and refuses to help him. Likewise Louis turns him away when he asks Louis to make his new body into a vampire, arguing that Lestat ought to be happy to be human again and also calls him out on his previous writings, accusing him of altering his actual past in favor of one that portrays him heroically. Lestat's only ally is David Talbot.
Full article ▸