"The Snake," by Mike McHone, in Mystery Magazine, February, 2023.
Certain themes or premises show up so often in any genre that they more or less make up a subgenre of their own.
Janet Hutchings, editor of Ellery Queen Mystery magazine, has said that the type of story she sees the most often is someone plotting to kill their spouse. An overlapping story is the hitman.
So how do you create something new and original in this category? As Charles M. Schulz said, drawing a comic strip means doing the same thing every day, but doing it different.
McHone manages it.
David is hiring a hitman to kill his wife. Here's the opening:
"I want you to listen because this is the only time I 'm going to say it. You don't think you can go through with this, you think you're going to crack up when the cops come, I walk. Hear me? And before you think to ask, no, you won't get your down payment back. Period."
That's good writing. Good dialog is personality and we know a lot about the hitman just from his voice. This story is something like 80% dialog, more if you count David's inner monologue.
So, the writing keeps us reading, but do we get anywhere interesting? Most definitely. McHone has come up with more than one original twist on the classic premise.