Felisa Batacan has written a stunning murder mystery set in the Philippines. Smaller and Smaller Circles has it all — a strong emotional plot involving serial killing, political corruption and child abuse. The protagonists are two academic priests with a specialty in forensics. Their relationship has a history and is warm, humorous and oddly endearing. Together they face enormous hostility from powerful political and religious power brokers who prefer to bury the unpleasant “problem” as quickly as possible. The victims are all poor young boys who would be forgotten, but for these two remarkable forensic priests who are determined to honor the victims by solving their murders. They also need to find the murderer fast, before more deaths occur.
I don’t think I’ve ever read a mystery featuring forensic priests before, but Felisa Batacan is clearly on to something. The combination of the decent, clever priests with brutal murder and the stench of political and religious corruption makes for a truly fascinating story. The interplay of relationships is a strong component — everyone seems to be linked to someone else, for better or worse. This excellent mystery also offers the intriguing possibility of redemption. Some of the bad guys may not stay so bad.
The writing is strong and clear, and this books has deservedly won a number of awards in the Philippines. Apparently Smaller and Smaller Circles is one of the first Philippine murder mysteries, and I hope Ms Batacan makes her excellent debut novel the first in a series.
I really recommend this book!