A Russian writer of period detective thrillers who has scored sales of more than three million copies in his native land was snapped up by editor M.J. Devaney of Random's Modern Library imprint after he read a story about the author, Boris Akunin, in the Wall Street Journal. He preempted North American rights from agent Linda Michaels, who was representing Akunin's translation rights on behalf of his Italian publisher, Frassinelli (his work has made a number of foreign sales). Akunin's series protagonist is a police detective who solves cases in turn-of-the-century, pre-revolutionary Russia, and Random is getting four books in its buy plus the services of Akunin in Modern Library's crime series.