Summary of Smaller and Smaller Circles

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The novel begins with the discovery of a series of murders around the Payatas dumpsite in Quezon City. These discoveries imply that a serial killer is on the loose, and many are lead to believe so. What is unusual about these murder cases is that all of the victims (young boys) are mutilated instead of just being killed. Their faces are neatly peeled off from their skulls and their hearts and genitals removed from their bodies. Father Emil, the parish priest of the area who discovers one of the victim’s bodies at the beginning of the first chapter, provides these details to Jesuit priests Gus Saenz and Jerome Lucero, a forensic pathologist and a clinical psychologist respectively. The two scientists are working on this case together with the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), whose inefficiency becomes one of the major themes of the novel. As the priests proceed with the investigation, they are forced to overcome several challenges, particularly skepticism and mocking of Atty. Ben Arcinas, the head of NBI’s investigating team. Figuring out the plans and intentions of a psychologically disturbed killer, especially if he’s very good at concealing it, is fairly difficult. The sleuths go through some complicated twists in their quest to find truth and justice amidst the media-hungry personalities who don’t give much attention to the case. The partners also work with Joanna Bonifacio, an investigative journalist who uses her skills to gather information from the bureaucracy. The two priests pursued the investigations of the crimes, confirming all the evidences left by the killer on the corpses especially the fact that he kills with precision and with symbols: he defaces his victims, and excises the genitals. They considered these signs that there is a sexual conflict and a need to get rid of the identity of the kids. Throughout the middle part of the novel, the readers are given glimpses of the lives of the young victims and how their families are affected by the...
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