It was in 2013 when I first encountered the crime-solving Jesuit Fr. Gus Saenz in the anthology “Manila Noir,” where he appears in the story “Comforter of the Afflicted.” Not that he needed further introduction. I was in college when I first heard of the novella “Smaller and Smaller Circles,” although I was not able to get ahold of a copy until the Manila Noir book signing, when I and a bunch of other bloggers quickly foraged through the bookstore shelves for copies when we found out F.H. Batacan was at the event.
I read “Smaller and Smaller Circles” shortly after that, and I thought it was a great character study. I also liked the way it explored the nature of humanity and what pushes people over the edge. And when the expanded novel came out, I was quite curious to see what changes were made to the original manuscript. I read it in preparation for yesterday’s book signing and I wasn’t disappointed – there’s a lot more meat to this expanded edition – and I was glad to revisit the novel once more.