Pull Me Under starts strong: the 12-year-old daughter of a famous Japanese musician stabs a classmate in the neck with a letter opener and ends up in a detention centre. When she’s finally released years later, she moves to the US and starts a new life, with a new name.
Decades later she has a husband and daughter of her own who know nothing about her former life. But when her estranged father dies, she’s pulled back to Japan where secrets – her own and her father’s – risk being exposed.
It’s a fine premise that never quite delivers. Once Rio – aka Chizuru – arrives back in Japan the story starts to drift. Yes, we gradually learn more about her dark past but the details are not particularly revelatory. The narrative unfolds too conventionally – and often too conveniently – to be gripping or surprising.
This is ultimately a character study and in that regard it’s relatively successful. By no means a bad book, but I can’t recommend it wholeheartedly.