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


General Fiction > Filipino > Mystery > Crime

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.

Literary Awards: NBDB National Book Award (2002), Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature for English Novel, Grand Prize (1999)


… 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 missing, it won’t be long before they found the grisly, mutilated bodies lying blatantly in the slums.

It’s a short read, and I liked that I did not feel shortchanged with the story. I liked the gore, on how the killer went on his ritual with his victims. I liked the back story too, on how the priests were able to profile the killer. I guess it did not just struck me as unique or inventive. Like I said, I was already too immersed with Dexter, Criminal Minds, and CSI to really enjoy the novelty of Smaller and Smaller Circles.

I might still recommend it, but if you are a hard-core fan of bloody murders, psychotic killers, and insane killing rituals like me, this will be just an ordinary “murder scene investigation”.

Goodreads – The Filipino Group Book of the Month (May)



Paperback, 155 pages

Published 2007 by University of the Philippines Press

3/5 stars


One thought on “Book Review: Smaller and Smaller Circles by F.H. Batacan

  1. Pingback: The lines were too long | Book Rhapsody

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