Few writers can take characters from a popular TV series and give them a 100 percent transition into books, as well as expand on the overall mythology. Christopher Golden is one such writer.
In "Spike and Dru: Pretty Maids All in a Row," a noirish tale of Spike and Drusilla, the Sid and Nancy of vampires, Golden fills in their long history together. The book has the feel of an Elmore Leonard novel, where the main characters are bad guys. In the Buffy-verse, you can't get any badder than the Big Bad himself, Spike! This is the Spike many know and miss before he received the behavior-modifying chip on the TV series.
The tale unfolds in World War II where in exchange for Freyja's Strand--a magical necklace allowing its wearer to shape-change--Spike and Dru most not only kill the WWII generation's Slayer, Sophie Cartensen, but all the other Slayers-in-Waiting, girls who have not yet been Chosen. Needless to say, they go on a killing spree, leaving a bloody trail of death in their wake.
Golden's characterization of Spike and Dru is spot on. You can hear James Marsters and Juliet Landau's--the actors who play the undead couple--voices in your heard when you read their dialogue. Golden also journeys into territory the show hasn't touched, giving you an inside look at the Council of Watchers and explaining, to some degree, how a Slayer is Chosen. It's too bad Golden hasn't written for the TV series.
There are also cameos and brief mentions of popular Buffy-verse characters. Golden throws in a few references to Angel and the Master. Kakistos, the vampire who debuted--and died--in "Faith, Hope, and Trick," the same episode Faith the evil Slayer made her first appearance, cuts a deal with Spike. And while Giles doesn't appear, an ancestor--also a Watcher--does. Buffy does NOT appear at all throughout the course of this novel, nor is she mentioned. This book is for die-hard fans only.
Contrary to how Amazon.com categorized this book, this is NOT for children! This story contains graphic violence and sex.
Also, this novel raises a contradiction in Buffy-verse continuity. It's been established Spike killed two Slayers, the first in the Boxer Rebellion. The second... well, the show says Spike killed a Pam Grier-esque Slayer in New York City in 1977, whereas this novel says otherwise. DON'T LET THAT STOP YOU! "Pretty Maids" is very well-written. I'm sure Golden, a gifted storyteller, can devise a way to fix this glitch without compromising his work and the episode detailing Spike's origin.