Books of Blood is a collection of seven horror fiction novels written by British author Clive Barker during the 1980s and early 1990s. There are actually six novels in all, each subtitled Volume I through to Volume VI, which was then re-issued as two omnibus editions comprising three volumes apiece. While the first three volumes of the book series chronologically are all set in Britain, Volume II centers around the continent, particularly the United States. The fourth book, entitled The Books of Blood, features a character named Richard Tranter.
Tranter is a private investigator who is the main protagonist of the series. He specializes in cases dealing with supernatural activity and is often involved in investigations of haunted houses, monsters, ghosts, and other paranormal phenomena. He is known for his ability to track down a missing person or find a lost loved one. Tranter also has an interest in the occult, especially those of the dark arts, and is particularly knowledgeable about ancient texts, such as those found in Necronomicon. Tranter is also a skilled swordsman and is often seen armed with either a sword pistol, or even a crossbow.
Tranter was hired by the United States military in the early nineteen eighties in an attempt to assist them in the war effort, but after becoming disillusioned with the military's tactics, he decided to take matters into his own hands and begin investigating mysterious disappearances. Tranter is also interested in discovering more about ancient texts and is often seen reading through the pages of some of the most obscure of these.
With the help of his friend John Baskerville, Tranter began investigating the deaths of children across England. Tranter's investigations led him to the outskirts of England's capital, where a series of murders had occurred. After the death of their friend, Dr. Peter Straub, the British Army was sent to search for the killer, to no avail. However, as a result of the investigation, Tranter learned that the killer was a person called The Book of Blood and began investigating the book itself.
Tranter soon discovered that there were many other stories behind the Book of Blood, and the Book of Blood's true nature. One of the tales he uncovered involved a group of soldiers, including himself, who went under the names of The Black Knights. Another involves a young man named John Constantine, who had been adopted by a noble family from the West Indies to become the adopted son of Queen Elizabeth. In yet another tale, a young girl by the name of Sarah Conran (Sophie) was forced to marry a wealthy family of men in the city of Cairo. As a result of the marriage, Sarah's father murdered her mother and became the owner of the Conran estate.
The Book of Blood is one of Barker's most well-known novels and is usually ranked somewhere between his earlier novel, Hellraiser, and the much less famous Hellraiser II: Hellseeker. Book of Blood was later adapted for film, with its first installment, featuring a character called John Constantine, starring Tim Curry as Constantine. The film followed Constantine on a mission to locate the Book of Blood, who had supposedly been located in Egypt. The movie adaptation followed the second book of the series, The Black Knights, a far lesser known novel titled The Book of the Unnamable, and the third book, The Book of Excalibur, featuring a far less recognizable actor in the role of John Constantine.