Circus of the Damned   - Laurell K. Hamilton, Kimberly Alexis "Your questions will make something simple last all...day."

Just three books in, and already we can see a pattern forming. Dudes come to Anita to have her do something; she says, in no uncertain terms, "No". Dolph calls her to investigate a murder; it ends up being the weirdest, most unusual murder Anita has ever seen. Jean-Claude makes the moves on her; Anita tells him to F@#$ off. Anita does minor investigating, bad guys come out of the woodworks to try to kill her, Anita is rude and sarcastic to a bunch of people, and suddenly Anita is fighting off the Most Powerful *FILL*IN*THE*BLANK*.

This book is no different. Some Human First members want Anita to rat out Jean-Claude; she refuses. She is called to a murder scene; the victim has been bitten to death by 5 or more vampires. Back to Jean-Claude where she and he fight like cats and dogs. FIGHT SCENE! Then Anita is racing off to her "night job". FIGHT SCENE! Bad guys try to kill her, Anita stumbles onto some new vampires, and before you know it, the city is about to be turned upside down by a 1million year old vampire--the oldest EVAH.

I'm rather torn about this book. There are actually things I like. Anita values her independence and free will and does NOT like Jean-Claude's stalker-ish behavior. The book is pretty fast-paced, and if you don't go in expecting Anita to do much investigating (pretty much everything just falls into her lap--how nice!), it's pretty exciting. It's also nice to have some action scenes, instead of many, many kissy-kissy scenes we see in vampire books. And, oddly enough, I actually LIKED Richard and Anita's cute meet (though I have heard tons about how THAT ends up...and it makes me sad :( ).

But there are oh, so many things that drives me nuts about these books.

1. Anita Blake. God, this is an unlikable woman! I can only take so much of this, "I am better than everyone else, even though I am ONLY 24 years old and have been in the business a whopping THREE years". Half the time, she sounds like a petulant child, bragging about how many toys (guns) she has and how well she can use them or telling someone to f@#$ off (and she does the latter A LOT). Or playing p!ssing games with the police (who should be fired for all the sexual harassment!). The other half of the time, she sounds like a 40 year old woman, coaching someone who is ONLY FOUR YEARS YOUNGER THAN HER and calling him "kiddo".

2. Action Scenes. Is it possible to have too many? When you forget what was going on and what the plot was, yes. This happened to me frequently. Why the big fight at Circus of the Damned with the Snake? Why did the vampires reveal themselves to Anita (when she had NO IDEA who they were before) at the cemetery with Larry? Why was Anita so easily duped into driving an hour into the boonies only to be chased into a cave where the vamps try to kill her? Isn't this supposed to be Anita, the most awesome, kick-@ss Vampire Hunter in the Mid-West?

3. Clothing. Every person has to have a run-down of what they are wearing. And not just once; no, we have to know what EVERYONE is wearing at any time. So when Anita changes, you hear about it. When Jean-Claude is on the scene, expect at least a paragraph or two on his frilly shirt.

4. CTRL+C -> CTRL+P. New "characters" have nearly the same description as old ones. St. Louis must have the highest population of beefy, muscular men who lift weights, because, I swear, it seemed not a page went by before Anita mentioned how muscular so-and-so was and how he must lift weights.

5. TMI. In case you were ever curious what exercise routine Anita and Ronnie do when they hit the gym, don't worry. LKH will let you know what machines they start at, who is best at what (Anita is better at arms, Ronnie with legs), and when they do cardio. Just what I open a Vampire novel to read. NOT.

6. Super-powered villains. For once, couldn't Anita just defeat a troup of vampires, instead of a showdown between her and the Most Awesome, 1 Million Year Old Vampire? What about a voodoo practitioner instead of The Best Voodoo Practitioner in Missouri? I have no idea how all these super powered beings keep coming to St. Louis (not the biggest city in the US) and just throw themselves in front of Anita's Browning.

Okay, so that was a lot of complaining. This book wasn't horrible. It was okay, it's just that after reading three Anita books in a row, I'm burned out. I think I need a break before I attempt to tackle Book 4 (if I want to at all--I am beginning to think this series is just not my cup of tea). Certainly not the worst out there, but I've read better too.