After reading the first story in this collection I felt like I was on the verge of discovering a wonderful new writer. Except she's not new. The first story, Arabella, was terrific: mordantly black, funny, strong punchy narrative and descriptions.
That story remained one of the strongest, but there were many others too that delighted. The wicked black streak showed up periodically, especially in the later stories.
The writing is direct and concise. The author disappears, leaving only the reader and the characters. The stories mostly are of the working poor, unemployed and unemployable, set in Scotland. Agnes Owens came from that world, and she wrote of what she knew, and she has done it brilliantly.