There's an interesting profile in today's San Francisco Chronicle about Grigory Chkhartashvili, a Russian translator and intellectual who was inspired by boredom to start a new career as mystery novelist Boris Akunin, the creator of the kickboxing, czarist-era Russian detective Erast Petrovich Fandorin:
His novels ... wear their period politics lightly. Each plays on a familiar genre. There's the contract killer, the spy and the picaresque swindler. There's a closed-room mystery. And the sixth book features a serial killer, who turns out to be Jack the Ripper, back home in Russia after a stint as a medical student in London. The appeal lies in the quality of the writing, the carefully drawn villains and killers, and the character of Fandorin.