Is CBS’ Tracker Inspired by a True Story?

Ben H. Winters’ ‘Tracker,’ is an action drama television series that follows Colter Shaw, a lone-wolf survivalist “reward-seeker” who goes around traveling the length and breadth of the country in an old-school RV and utilizes his adept tracking skills to aid private citizens as well as law enforcement. He works to solve all sorts of complicated mysteries, specifically to help locate missing persons while simultaneously trying to deal with his own broken family.

After he learns of a substantial reward being placed in exchange for information on a missing Silicon Valley college student, Shaw takes up the task. As the investigation proceeds, he soon finds himself thrust into the dark and mysterious work of Silicon Valley’s cutthroat billion-dollar video game industry. With umpteen twists and turns coupled with unexpected thrills and drama, fans of the 2024 television series, ‘Tracker,’ can’t help but wonder whether it is based on reality or fiction.

Tracker is Based on Jeffery Deaver’s First Novel of a Thriller Series

No, ‘Tracker,’ is not based on a true story but on Jeffery Deaver’s 2019 novel, ‘The Never Game.’ The series follows Colter Shaw, just as he attempts to explore the dark and notorious world of Silicon Valley’s video game industry. Meanwhile, another kidnapping occurs, and the victim turns up dead. As he starts to dig the clues, everything points towards one survivalist game; ‘The Never Game,’ in which a player has to do all it takes to survive after being left alone and abandoned. As Shaw tries to uncover whether a madman is attempting to bring the game to life, he must also do all it takes to prevent another casualty from happening while ensuring the killer doesn’t figure that Shaw is hot on his trail.

The novel provides a thrilling perspective into a relatively unknown underworld of a thriving video game industry where Colter Shaw walks into, unaware of the dangers that lurk ahead. His hunger for rewards is what further propels him to try to dig deep into the case. That is, till he actually finds himself face-to-face with a prospective madman who blurs the world of video games and reality. The rewards that Shaw seeks through his successful cases form the purpose of his life, something that every person in almost every sphere of life seeks. However, this particular case becomes a little more than just the gains.

In this ultimate case, the director blends Shaw’s purpose into an adrenaline-induced chase. He races against time to prevent another death and collect a metaphorical reward for his good deed. His hunger to solve cases is what stands out throughout each challenge he takes up. Knowing well the high stakes involved, except only this time, everything goes up a notch. Shaw’s intrigue in an unorthodox career, which started during childhood, led him to work on his tracking abilities in the wilderness and eventually make it a promising career.

While each case for him is a challenge, it is the latest one that ends up changing his life entirely. Caught at a crossroads of trying to save more casualties from coming through while attempting to uncover a person who draws inspiration from a make-believe world is what keeps viewers hooked throughout. Over the years, there have been several such shows that have emphasized trying to solve that one particular case that ended up meaning everything to them. Prime examples would be ‘Castle’ and ‘The Mentalist.’ In ‘Tracker’ too, the director through his understanding of the same, has incorporated a sense of determination in Shaw’s character to solve the penultimate case.

Ben H. Winters has done complete justice to Jeffery Deaver’s novel by staying true to the characters and the narrative. Justin Hartley, in the role of Colter Shaw, a freelancer utilizing his brilliant tracking and survival skills to locate missing individuals, has managed to leave a lasting impact, along with the ensemble of Robin Weigert, Abby McEnany, Eric Graise, and Fiona Rene, all of whom have given equally promising performances. While the series promises to be an engaging watch and seems rooted in reality, the truth is that just like the novel ‘The Never Game’ from which it draws inspiration, ‘Tracker’ too is a really well-made and detailed work of fiction.

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