Tag Archives: f.h. batacan

Book Review: Smaller and Smaller Circles by F.H. Batacan

Title: Smaller and Smaller Circles
Author: F.H. Batacan
Format: Paperback
Price: PHP 150.00
Read Date: 24 July 2012

Winner of the Carlos Palanca Grand Prize for the English Novel award in 1999, Smaller and Smaller Circles by F. H. Batacan narrates a story about two Jesuit priests, who also happens to know a thing or two about forensics, that were tapped to solve the mystery surrounding the gruesome murders of young boys living in Payatas, Quezon City — one of the poorest areas in Metro Manila, Philippines.


Review In A Nutshell:
Smaller and Smaller Circles by F.H. Batacan is an elegantly-written piece of fiction that definitely packs a wallop despite its pint-sized thickness.


Since I did a “Scoring The Book” post before this book review, I just felt it was appropriate to open it up with that video. All things considered, I was heavily reminded of Crime Scene Investigation the moment I started reading Smaller and Smaller Circles.

The award-winning mystery novel penned by Filipino novelist, F.H. Batacan, tells of a story of two Jesuit priests, Father Gus Saenz and Father Jerome Lucero, who were tapped to help solve a series of gruesome murders of young boys who lived in Payatas, Quezon City given their knowledge and experience in forensic work. As the two Jesuit priests dig deeper into the murders, they both discover how perplexed the case was. In their journey of trying to prevent more young boys from being killed, they are followed (and somewhat aided) by Joanna Bonifacio, a TV producer and host that could give any local female newscaster a run for their money. Despite their experience in forensics and dealing with some irritatingly arrogant local officials, nothing prepared the two Jesuit priests of their discovery of the elusive killer, who may or may not have been lurking in their shadows for quite some time.

Okay, I know this video is completely off-topic but the how murders were written in the book were like this: quick yet precise.
The Duel between The Bride and O-Ren Ishii, Kill Bill No. 1

If I were to sum up my thoughts about this book, I can keep it to as many as the number of those poor, murdered boys discovered in its first few pages: an elegantly-written piece of fiction.

It is no wonder why Smaller and Smaller Circles by F.H. Batacan received the accolades it got. The book is sarcastically funny, gritty, thought-provoking and completely entertaining. Despite its pint-sized thickness, it packs a wallop. It’s a complete page-turner; you will not stop until you get to the end of the story. When I started reading it, I was so frustrated that I didn’t have any colored tabs with me that I had to re-read it as soon as I bought a set. Well, you can definitely say that the proof is indeed in the pudding.

My heavily-tabbed copy of the book. Photo taken using Instagram.

However, as with any piece of work, Smaller and Smaller Circles is definitely not beyond perfect. If there’s one bone I’d like to pick with it using a really sharp scalpel, it’ll probably be the liberal use of Latin, French and German phrases in the book. Because I wanted so much to dig deeper into the story, I had to ensure I was beside my laptop while reading the book so that I can google the phrases’ meanings to understand their significance. There were times that I was distracted by it; whether out of envy or the need to know, I’m not sure. This was one of those rare occasions wherein I wouldn’t mind seeing footnotes inside a book if only to make understanding those foreign lines easier.

Nonetheless, Smaller and Smaller Circles by F.H. Batacan is definitely worth the read. And I’m hearing some buzz in the local book blogging community that the author is currently penning a prequel. I cannot wait to get my hands on that. 🙂


My Rating:
4.5 out of 5 stars

My Two Cents:
Get a copy at your nearest local bookstore. For PHP 150.00, it is definitely a steal for a outstanding work of fiction.


Scoring The Book: Smaller and Smaller Circles by F.H. Batacan

While I did mention that this blog will feature reviews and news about things that I love, sometimes inspiration kicks in and makes you want to post something different. And therefore the Special Feature category was created, which I’ll be using for blog posts that can’t be classified under news or reviews. Initially, I wanted my first Special Feature to be about the battle of the Snow White reboots, which I will post in due time. However, as I started on my book group‘s August Book of the Month, I couldn’t resist creating this post after reading its first 39 pages. And I hope it won’t be the last. But do allow me some time to give you an idea where I got this Special Feature.

Scoring The Book is a regular post of a friend of mine, Meann, who blogs about books and other stuff on The Girl Who Read and Other Stories. In that feature, she would post videos of songs that she feels appropriate for certain scenes while reading a book. The idea, which Meann recognizes may have been done before and countless times already, felt great and I wanted to do the same thus prompting this post, which I hope you’ll enjoy. For my first Scoring The Book feature, I have chosen Who Are You by The Who.

The reason why I chose this song is because of what I have read so far about Smaller and Smaller Circles by F.H. Batacan, which is a crime/mystery novel. As I started reading, the staging of its first few chapters reminded me a lot about Crime Scene Investigation or CSI. There was a time when I was obsessed with that show; Gil Grissom is perhaps one of my favorite TV characters of all time. Reading the book reminded me so much of it and that song, which became the show’s opening theme, kept playing in my head. Unfortunately, because of the series’ many character shifts and spin-offs, I have somewhat lost interest. Smaller and Smaller Circles reminded me of how much I loved the series. I can only guess that F.H. Batacan is also a fan and the book is such a fitting tribute, and I dare say, even cooler than the series. I mean, two Jesuit priests who are also forensic anthropologists? It cannot get any better than that.