Spinning Around: A Review of "Smaller and Smaller Circles"
By Ligaya Diwata
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 Quezon City, leading many to believe that a serial killer is on the loose. Now the killer’s style is different in the sense that instead of just KILLING the victims – all pre-adolescent boys – their faces and hearts are all missing. To be more exact, the body parts mentioned seem to be ripped out from the skeletal frames. Father Emil, the parish priest of the area, gives this information to Jesuit priests Augusto “Gus” Saenz and Jerome Lucero, a criminal anthropologist and a clinical psychologist respectively, who are working on this case in conjunction with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Assisted by Joanna Bonifacio, described as a “one-woman NBI (National Bureau of Investigation)” operative, who works as a reporter and writer for a weekly current affairs program in a large television network, the two priests try to trace the suspect...