About six feet tall and slender, with movie-star good looks, dark complexion, and a white streak on the forehead in his otherwise black short hair.
When we first meet him he is sporting a mustache and a thin almost-goatee, and looks like the kind of guy who would definitely play a villain in a movie. After he shaves the beard off some of the villain vibe goes with it, and he looks fit for a leading role.
History within series Edit
When we first meet John Burke he's the greatest animator and vampire slayer in New Orleans, but comes to Saint Louis after his brother and fellow animator Peter Burke first goes missing and is later found killed. They hadn't seen each other in two years.
Anita meets John Burke in Peter Burke's funeral. Jamison appears to know Burke from before, and introduces him to Anita. He shakes her hand too hard, and she doubts it's accidental. Burke thanks her for promising to see what she can find out about the investigation, and states that the New Orleans police and he have had a "misunderstanding" over his involvement in a series of ritual murders, which is why he can't get information through them. Anita also learns that Burke has been in town for a week, and immediately considers him a potential suspect in the killer zombie case.
After talking it through with Dolph Anita uses Burke's query as an excuse to get close to him in the hopes that he might let something to slip, if he happens to be the culprit. To achieve that she invites him along to go through Peter's personal effects. Burke identifies Peter's gris-gris as something that requires human sacrifice. Burke would be willing to use black magic or other illegal means to get his revenge on The Señora, and says Anita is naive to think the law can handle her.
Anita later takes (with Dolph's blessing) Burke along to help in the questioning of Dominga Salvador, and to the killer zombie hunt, and he continues to be helpful.
In this book we learn that Bert has hired Burke to Animators, Inc., and he has moved to St. Louis. He can raise at least four zombies in a single night, and Anita bets he could do five, although Bert is doubtful.
When Bert can't reach Anita for an emergency staking he sends John to take care of it instead. Anita tells Bert to call John back since she has reason to suspect the corpse is going to raise as an animalistic vampire, but even if his car is nowhere to be seen they find John at the morgue anyway. He says he came ahead to make sure the vampire didn't get loose while Anita and the police were en route, although he clearly came too late as well. When they run into each other John is tracking the vampire by bloody footprints. When it attacks he throws holy water on it to help finish it off, and later stakes it just in case. He uses an actual stake and a mallet for the job.
It's later revealed that John and Anita dated briefly (two dates), but he couldn't deal with her being more like a female version of himself than the kind of lady his old southern ideals tell him she should be. Anita regrets the dates because it's making them working together awkward. He still tries to treat her like a lady, and she's having none of it.
Later, Anita tells Larry that John only helps to execute vampires but doesn't hunt them alone. This conflicts with his reputation in the previous book, but might be merely a case that he has given up active vampire hunting after moving to St. Louis.
We don't meet John in this book, but it's mentioned that the new big customer doesn't want him for the job, they want Anita. Bert doesn't want John to find out, because this isn't the first time this has happened, and John's pride is hurt. Anita quips that there's a lot of that pride to hurt, and Bert points out that her needling doesn't help. They both agree that John isn't as powerful as Anita but is a close second within the whole United States, and would never share his power willingly with Anita. Bert is afraid that John might leave the company if his pride gets one more hit. Later Anita mentions John to Dolph as an example of a vampire executioner who really shouldn't get a federal badge, as one reason why she disapproves of the planned new law. At some point Anita also says she is "the legal vampire executioner for a tree-state area", which again suggests that John's executioner status is secondary to her own.