Simon & Schuster, Mar 2001, 352 pp.
Following the successful test of his new ship Victory, information technology billionaire Rex Wyman announces the yachting race to end all races. His ship will challenge the best to race from San Francisco Bay to Tokyo Harbor via the 5200-mile rhomb line that consists of the shortest nautical distance. This Pacific challenge will occur in the winter making it that much more hazardous.
What makes the Victory different than its competitors is that it is a “ghost ship” whose crew is a computer. On board during the race will be Rex, his girl friend Gwen Weld (the coding genius behind the ship), and former partner and software guru Toby Odell. The world class rivals seem pale compared to the climatic conditions that places everyone at risk. However, more perilous to one's survival is Rex's need to win at all costs because his company is crumbling, but how far is he willing to go to claim victory?
FORCE 12 is an exciting thriller that tries to be too much for everyone. The story line involving the pre-race and the race is fantastic as readers feel the wet wind on their face. That plot easily could have carried the tale and turn this into a must read great novel. The subplot of a deviously dangerous Rex takes front stage and actually slows down the great race. Still FORCE 12 is a very refreshing novel that proves James Thayer (see TERMINAL EVENT) is a talented author. However, though fans will gain pleasure from the book, many readers will believe that it came in second to what it could have been: a modern day humanity armed with technology vs. nature story.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner