His novels draw on the changing face of modern Scotland. Swing Hammer Swing (1992) was set during the demolition of the old Gorbals. It took 30 years to write. The Devil's Carousel (1998) drew on the decline of a fictionalised version of the Rootes/Chrysler car plant at Linwood. Torrington worked for eight years on the production line of the Hillman Imp car there, before the plant's closure.
Swing Hammer Swing was Whitbread Book of the Year in 1992.