Doubleday president Steve Rubin made a big buy himself last week, a major six-figure deal for a political thriller by first-time novelist (and former Yale professor) David Zeman. The book's called The Pinocchio Syndrome and is described as having a highly unusual premise: in the post—September 11 world a mysterious body has come up with a way of carrying out, undetected, a genocidal reprisal against any ethnic group believed to be harboring terrorists; agent Deborah Schneider at Gelfman & Schneider, who made the U.S. and Canadian rights sale for hardcover only, compares its denouement to that of The Manchurian Candidate. Rubin, who doesn't usually buy direct but was offered a brief exclusive on this one, plans to publish next summer. Zeman, by the way, is a published author—of a philosophical work called Proximity.