Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Smaller and Smaller Circles” as Want to Read:
Smaller and Smaller Circles
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Smaller and Smaller Circles

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  2,246 Ratings  ·  310 Reviews
Smaller and Smaller Circles is unique in the Philippine literary scene - a Pinoy detective novel, both fast-paced and intelligent, with a Jesuit priest who also happens to be a forensic anthropologist as the sleuth. When it won the Carlos Palanca Grand Prize for the English Novel in 1999, it proved that fiction can be both popular and literary.

F.H. Batacan has a degree in
Paperback, 6th Edition, 155 pages
Published 2008 by The University of the Philippines Press (first published 2002)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Jr Bacdayan
One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, I’m sure we’ve all heard of this overused line. However in my country, sadly, this is to be taken literally. There are people who depend on trash as their main source of income. A sad reality where both adults and kids usually go through the dumps and scavenge anything they can from recyclables to broken electronics and even half-eaten food. Forced by abject poverty, immune to the stench, these people depend on foul, rotting garbage because it is the on ...more
K.D. Absolutely
Kudos to F. H. Batacan for writing the only contemporary detective Filipino novel in English. She, who now resides in Singapore, made a breakthrough with this book as it proved that Filipinos do read and appreciate good books outside our usual genres: love, romance, family drama, humor, politics and comics.

Well, aside from the fact this book being a required reading in some colleges particularly in Philippine Literature courses, I think there are still some of us who read this for pleasure. I th
Book Riot Community
The thing about voraciously reading mystery/crime/suspense is that while you still enjoy the books, you inevitably hit a wall where you’re rarely surprised and you can easily guess all the tropes to come. So color me happily surprised to start reading Smaller and Smaller Circles to discover two Jesuit priests (a forensic anthropologist and psychologist) are asked to consult in order to help identify and stop a serial killer—definitely one I’ve never read before. This book was dark, smart, took m ...more
Aug 29, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: fans of suspense thrillers
10-9-8...A circle is formed in the middle of the ground. Those found outside are dead. Ravaged by unknown beings in the darkness. Those that remain in the circle lives.
7-6-5… But the circle grows small. More and more people fall off the edge and is smothered by the dark flames. Makes you want to think, "Is this hell?" But the silence in the darkness just covers your voice. You squeak now, and then you realize, all that remains is you, alone. The circle continues to shrink below your feet until I
First Sentence: Some days I just can’t seem to focus.

The body of a young boy is found in Payatas, a massive dump where people, especially young boys, scavenge for their existence. The severely mutilated body has been brought to Father Gus Saenz, a Jesuit priest and respected forensic anthropologist. However, this isn’t a singular case and Father Gus, along with his friend, psychologist Father Jerome Lucero, is asked by the Director of the National Bureau of Investigation to help find the killer.
3 stars - It was good.

A fairly predictable mystery, but I really enjoyed the Filipino cultural inclusions in the novel. I had also never read a murder mystery where Jesuit priests are collaborating with the police to solve a case, which made for an intriguing juxtaposition.
Favorite Quote: We are powerless when we wait for other people to act on our behalf.

First Sentence: Emil is running after his slum kids, panting in the noonday sun, loosening the high
Dec 19, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Masterpiece!...exciting, moving, amusing, and intense in chasing the killer.

For me this is like the Filipino version of Silence of the Lamb, Hannibal Lecter, and the movie Identity starring John Cusack.

The plot is good and descriptive about the events.

Recommended for science and medical field topics.
I like Smaller and Smaller Circles.

... So I must have read or watched too many crime stories already, because this was just okay for me. But considering that a Filipino author penned Smaller and Smaller Circles, I will admit it was a little impressive.

Two Jesuit priests are being consulted over a series of murders in the slums of Manila. They do have credentials as consultants, I think the background is anthropology..? Anyway, the victims are boys within the cusp of puberty. As soon as they went
Jan 10, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016, own-voices
I will write a review but I want to ask Clarisse some questions about life in the Philippines before I do so I don't make any ridiculously untrue comments.
Nancy Oakes
plot and more at my online journal's crime page -- here.

Let's face it...serial killer novels these days are a dime a dozen, so there has to be something to differentiate the good ones from the ho-hum and the same old same old. Author F.H. Batacan has found the way to do it. Her book Smaller and Smaller Circles is not your average hunt-for-the-serial-killer story, but rather a look at how politics, corruption, the power of the church, and the desire for power all get in the way of getting to the
Joy Bordador
Jan 28, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
F. H. Batacan’s “Smaller and Smaller Circles,” one of seven novels released as part of the U.P. Jubilee Students’ Edition, is a rarity in the Philippine writing scene because it is a crime novel set in the Philippines. It is touted by the U.P. Press, its publisher, as more of a pocketbook than a piece of required reference material with its slick pacing, its engaging story and its late 1990’s sensibility.

At the start, a series of murders are discovered in and around the Payatas district in Quezo
Jan 04, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime-fiction
I'll give this book three stars because of the unique locale, interesting characters, and good descriptive writing. A crime novel set in the Philippines with two priests acting as detectives is not exactly run of the mill. The story is centered on the mutilation murders of young boys- the poorest of the poor in Manila.

There are three themes to the story: the murders, the political corruption, and the irresponsibility of the Catholic Church. The social conscience themes definitely come through in
Sep 14, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Maybe it is because I really was in the mood for a mystery/thriller or maybe it is because I reached the epic ending of the book the night of a thunderstorm, but man that was a good book. Definitely some unevenness and shows the signs of being a debut novel, but still really good. Watch my full review:
Biena (The Library Mistress)
Stuck between 4 and 5, in the end, I think, I'm giving this a 4.5. :D

I want to be Joanna Bonifacio. Ugh, I really want to be like her. Hahaha. But I'd prolly do a better job in producing a fun and youthful show than a crime-driven program as I am as soft as Fr. Jerome.

Oh well, what can I say? I enjoyed this book very much.

I'm not afraid of crime novels anymore.
Nov 27, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Lynai by: Emir Never
A brilliant crime fiction by a Filipino author in a Philippine setting. I am impressed. I want to read more Filipino books like this. More thoughts soon.
Smaller and Smaller Circles is one of those rare one-of-a-kind books that you discover by some lucky stroke of fate and treasure for a lifetime.

This probably sounds like an exaggeration, but it's certainly true for me because:

1. It's written by a Filipino author. We don't exactly have a bazillion authors here spewing out books of all kinds for us to read every day. (Well, I suppose Wattpad stories are all the craze nowadays, but I'm not part of the target audience and am not interested in readin
Mar 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I remember reading this for our Philippine literature class in college, several years ago, but I don't remember the story. I was surprised to see this title last year in bookstores, with a very nice cover change. And then I learned that it's also being sold in other parts of the world. This really made me happy, that it's getting the attention I think it deserves.

Simply put, this follows the investigation of a serial killer case. I thought the flow of the story is 'by the formula', just like man
Jul 02, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A reread.

This is a straightforward detective fare, the sort of material you wish you'd see more in local bookstores, less of the shit romantic taglish stuff. It’s CSI: Philippines with priests. Batacan's priority was to tell the story, not to make a guessing game for the readers. Virtually no one believes the Philippines has a bunch of serial killers on the loose; Batacan makes it plausible using ‘missing’ statistics that the overworked/inept police don't keep track of.

The characters are fairl
Maria Ella
I hope the expanded edition of the first novella will not disappoint.
Mar 25, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: All my countrymen who plan on working with any profession involving our justice system!
Recommended to Reg by: BookClubPH
Actual rating: 3.5

WARNING! Rant unrelated to the story proper:
What I discovered with myself while reading this book is how green I am when it comes to books set in my own country and I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one.
It was a struggle to read not because it was badly written but because it felt like I was reading for a school requirement and not for pleasure. This is in part to blame due to the fact that the novels I read for pleasure are mostly set in countries foreign to me. I have been ps
Jan 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
5 stars!

When a boy's mutilated body was found in the Payatas garbage dump, the NBI enlisted the help of Father Gus Saenz, the country's top forensic anthropologist, and his colleague Father Jerome Lucero, a psychologist. They are soon on the trail of a serial killer and they must race to catch him before he kills agan.

The mystery plot of this novel is one of the neatest, most linear mysteries that I've read. Plot, clues, evidence, solution--all neatly laid out with nary a red herring in sight. W
Jazz Keep Reading
Mar 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Deserves the "award winning" title. I enjoyed how it attempts to show reality surely, filipino readers will like this book. The scenes were easy to imagine and analyze because of its connection to the real happenings in the country. I gave this book 4.5/5
Smaller and Smaller Circles is a very pleasant surprise. It truly is unique in the Philippine literary scene because, as far as I know, no one has dared to talk about crime and murder and forensics in a novel, and to be able to render it completely intelligent and gripping. The protagonist here is a Jesuit priests who also happen to be forensic anthropologist; and now his task is to uncover the truth behind the ruthless and gruesome murders taking a toll on the lives of young boys in Payatas.

Jessica Woodbury
A very strong crime novel from the Philippines. I love reading international crime and this book does exactly what I want: it takes me to a place I have never seen before and shows me how it works from one specific point of view.

The protagonists are two priests whose education and skills have them consulting with national law enforcement. The agency and its local counterparts are unskilled and often full of corruption. At a murder scene, pictures aren't taken, evidence isn't gathered, the steps
one of very few filipino noir novels ever in english, a sort of serial killer procedural but main sleuths are catholic priests. topic is child molestation with an interesting side plot/conundrum of priest molesters, though main plot is of public school molesters, but anyway, a great debut novel detailing the very poor in manila, the city dump neighborhoods and touches on politics, media, police, church, everyday culture and food, living conditions, even some nice weather involved. a super good r ...more
Jason Lundberg
Dec 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels-novellas
It was very difficult to read this novel -- I had no stomach for violence or abuse against children even before I became a father, and I'm exponentially more sensitive to it now -- but at the same time I could not put this down. Horrific and horrifying but compelling in the investigation and especially in the genial relationship between the two priests trying to track down the serial killer. I read the last 50 pages in a rush, muscles clenched the whole time.
So good! I wish she'd written more mysteries - I'd love to read more about Fr Gus and Fr Jerome.

Originally posted here.

Thriller, mystery and suspense are closely-related genres that I have always enjoyed; Stieg Larsson, John Grisham and James Patterson are just a few of the contemporary authors whose thrillers I’ve always appreciated. However, I’ve yet to come across a local author who has written crime or mystery – not that I’m any authority on the subject – until Smaller and Smaller Circles came along.

I first heard about Smaller and Smaller Circles when I attended the second Filipino
Set in the slums of Payatas, just outside Quezon City of the Manila metro area, Batacan's Smaller and Smaller Circles is a bit of a contradiction. On the one hand it is rather unique: a crime procedural novel written by a Filipino author with a plot steeped in local politics and culture, and featuring two Jesuit priests committed to identifying a serial killer preying on the indigent tween boys living amid the neighborhood trash warrens. However on the other hand the novel is exceptionally ordin ...more
This novel is like a cross between GK Chesteron's Father Brown mysteries and David Fincher's Se7en. I don't blame anyone who'd consider this an unforgivably facile and reductionist comment, but I've been grasping for a better way to describe the way FH Batacan is writing two different registers of the mystery novel and attempting to meld them in a single work. The reader is expected to reconcile the Latin-quoting, erudite Jesuit anthropologists Gus Saenz and Jerome Lucero with the frankly bile-c ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
  • Unreported Murders (Trese, #2)
  • Dwellers
  • Icon of the Indecisive
  • Walong Diwata ng Pagkahulog
  • The Mythology Class: A Graphic Novel
  • Manila Noir
  • Ang Kagila-gilalas na Pakikipagsapalaran ni Zsazsa Zaturnnah
  • Dusk (Rosales Saga, #1)
  • Naermyth (Naermyth, #1)
  • Dekada '70 (Ang Orihinal at Kumpletong Edisyon)
  • The Kite of Stars and Other Stories
  • Tall Story
  • Alternative Alamat: Stories Inspired by Philippine Mythology
Maria Felisa H. Batacan is a Filipino journalist and a writer of crime and mystery fiction. Her work has been published in the Philippines and abroad under the name F.H. Batacan.

She was a fellow at the 1996 Dumaguete National Writers' Workshop.

Batacan worked in the Philippine intelligence community and then became a broadcast journalist. She attended the University of the Philippines, where she pu
More about F.H. Batacan...

Share This Book

“We are powerless when we wait for other people to act on our behalf.” 6 likes
“The arctic atmosphere, necessary for the maintenance of broadcast equipment, is air-conditioner sterile, with occasional stray smells of brewed coffee and toner for photocopying machines.” 3 likes
More quotes…