"It'll Cost You," by Neil Schofield, in Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, September 2014.
Lawrence Block once wrote that "A story must have a beginning, a middle and an end, but not necessarily
in that order." The current fashion is to start as far into the action as you can and then explain what went before in flashbacks.
But what about starting at the end? I don't mean telling the story in reverse like, for example, the movie Betrayal. No, I am thinking of stories that begin by revealing how they will end, and then jump to the start. Two more classic movies come to mind: Sunset Boulevard and American Beauty, both of which start with the narrator informing you that he gets killed (and one of them still manages to provide a surprise ending).
My friend Neil Schofield has provided a witty and very clever story of this type. Georgie Hopcraft starts out by cheerfully telling us that he is in prison and his cell mate is "another murderer," which is a little misleading because Georgie has been convicted of a murder he did not commit.
Then why is he so cheerful? Well, it has to do with that cell mate, and I will leave it at that.
But Georgie goes on to explain the whole story. He was a somewhat shady owner of a "slightly better-class second and bric-a-brac shop" in London. But when his soon-to-be ex-wife was dissatisfied with the upcoming settlement she found a way to get him framed into prison. And we get to watch the whole framing process.
And yet, Georgie remains cheerful. Hmm. This leads us to...
This story is, oddly enough, a fair play mystery. That usually means the reader has all the clues needed to figure out the identity of the murderer. In this story that is a given, but you have all the clues to figure out how Georgie will prove he didn't do it.