A trailblazer in science fiction, suspense, and horror, Richard Matheson influenced a generation of authors and film directors. Often, Matheson’s characters—everyday folks—find their normal lives thrown wildly off course by life-threatening predicaments. Duel follows the path of everyman David Mann as he sets out across a lonely rural highway on a mundane business trip. Mann thinks nothing of passing a road-worn diesel rig, but he soon discovers that the truck’s sadistic driver is bent on getting revenge. Told from Mann’s perspective, the story is framed by his overwrought inner monologue.
The book’s cover art establishes the story’s setting quite effectively. From the drab interior of Mann’s economy car, you see the long, lonely road before you and the shadowy rig’s ominous silhouette looming ahead. The colorless landscape is interrupted only by the blood red color of the title’s bold letterforms.
Inside, the layout emphasizes the protagonist’s loneliness and desperation. The stark lines of black Hoefler type are periodically interrupted by outbursts of Helvetica Condensed—Mann’s own cries of distress from within the solitary confinement of his automobile.