This harrowing mystery, winner of the Philippine National Book Award, follows two Catholic priests on the hunt through Manila for a brutal serial killer
Payatas, a 50-acre dump northeast of Manila’s Quezon City, is home to thousands of people who live off of what they can scavenge there. It is one of the poorest neighborhoods in a city whose law enforcement is already stretched thin, devoid of forensic resources and rife with corruption. So when the eviscerated bodies of preteen boys begin to appear in the dump heaps, there is no one to seek justice on their behalf.
In the rainy summer of 1997, two Jesuit priests take the matter of protecting their flock into their own hands. Father Gus Saenz is a respected forensic anthropologist, one of the few in the Philippines, and has been tapped by the Director of the National Bureau of Investigations as a backup for police efforts. Together with his protégé, Father Jerome Lucero, a psychologist, Saenz dedicates himself to tracking down the monster preying on these impoverished boys.
Smaller and Smaller Circles, widely regarded as the first Filipino crime novel, is a poetic masterpiece of literary noir, a sensitive depiction of a time and place, and a fascinating story about the Catholic Church and its place in its devotees’ lives.
Set in the Philippines in 1997, Batacan's richly detailed and deeply unsettling debut won the Philippine National Book Award in its original short form. In this expanded version, Fr. Gus Saenz, whose skills as a forensic anthropologist with a concentration in forensic pathology are often sought after by the country's National Bureau of Investigation, helps look into the deaths of six boys, all of whom were found in Quezon City's Payatas dump site, where children often pick through garbage to provide for their families. The victims' faces, hearts, and genitals were removed, and Saenz, along with his friend and prot g , Fr. Jerome Lucero, a clinical psychologist, are sure the killer has a very specific agenda. As the priests work to identify the boys and their killer, they must wade through the political muck surrounding a case that no one wants publicized, in a country where centralized crime statistics are unheard of and resources are scarce. Batacan evokes the mountain of garbage at the heart of the story so clearly that readers can almost smell the stench, but it's clear from this gruesome tale that refuse isn't the only thing that's rotten in Manila.
Smaller and Smaller Circles
Sad, terrible, beautiful, honest, terrifying. A book reflecting human nature at its best and worst.
Smaller and Smaller Circles
Great story, great critique of society and the church, yet most hopeful. Please tell us more stories of these two caring, crime solving priests, great friends and hope for us all.