Circus of the Damned is the third novel in Laurell K. Hamilton's Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter series. Anita Blake is actually an animator who raises zombies for a living, but also has the ability to kill vampires as long as they are legally considered "criminals."
I originally read the first several books in this series shortly after they were released about 20 years ago, but lost interest somewhere around book #8. I've decided to re-read the series a few decades later to see if I would enjoy it more the second time around. So far, so good!
In Circus of the Damned, Anita Blake is trying to hunt down a vicious master vampire who is slaughtering innocent humans. During her investigation, she tangles with Jean-Claude, the current Master of the City of St. Louis, whom she is partly bound to after having had drank his blood in previous novels for emergency healing purposes. With Jean-Claude's help, Anita is able to identify and bring down the centuries-old vampire behind the killings.
Additional side-plots have Anita dating a sexy middle-school teacher named Richard Zeeman, training a new young animator named Larry, and butting heads with Edward - a deadly rogue vampire executioner who constantly harasses Anita regarding the true identity of the Master of the City.
I think I've mentioned this point previously, but Anita's character reminds me a lot of Stephanie Plum in the Janet Evanovich mystery series, minus the ditziness. Anita is quirky, sassy, and kicks ass, but sometimes the situations she manages to find herself in (and manages to get out of) are a bit extreme and far-fetched at times. But then again, what do you expect?
Hamilton goes into some pretty explicit descriptions of the characters' outfits throughout her novels, which is hilarious given the fashion is so dated. Wearing an oversized sweater with images of pumpkins on it may have been cute circa-1995, but I can't help but laugh thinking about how unsexy Anita probably looks, especially to vampire lothario Jean-Claude. Even Richard's outfits are dorky. Nobody cool wears sweatpants that bunch at the ankle topped with a black leather jacket and no shirt underneath. Seriously.
However, I'm really loving the buildup between Anita and Jean-Claude in regards to both the romance and combined supernatural powers they have. I'm sure their romantic tension and powers are going to explode at some point soon. I'm also looking forward to some explosive sex scenes, which I vaguely remember occurring in some (or maybe all) of the upcoming novels.