Smaller and Smaller Circles

F.H. Batacan. Soho Crime, $26.95 (368p) ISBN 978-1-61695-398-0
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 protégé, 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. Agency: Books@Jacaranda (Philippines). (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 06/29/2015
Release date: 08/18/2015
Paperback - 368 pages - 978-1-61695-663-9
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