Author Irvine Welsh, best known for his 1993 novel Trainspotting, returns with his latest collection of short stories that feature interesting characters in quite unusual circumstances. In “Rattlesnakes,” for example, three Americans in the desert make an ill-fated encounter with two Mexican brothers who hold them at gunpoint. Equally unsettling is “Miss Arizona,” in which a writer interviews an eccentric old woman who later has a surprise waiting for him. The best of the pieces is “Kingdom of Fife,” a quirky story that involves two social outcasts, a table football match [or what we Americans call foosball], and a human head. Through his gritty, in-your-face style, Welsh is a master in developing offbeat characters, from an English bar owner coping with the women in his life , to an elder Scotsman who constantly listens to the music of 50 Cent. And as you’re finishing along Welsh sometimes throws an unexpected curve ball as he does on the aforementioned “Miss Arizona” and “The DOGS of Lincoln Park,” about an urban professional who loses her dog. In the end, it is the dark humor that makes the stories in this collection all the more fun and entertaining.