Queen of crime writing Lynda La Plante says she’d make a ‘hopeless’ police officer

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Not a lot of people know this, but I’m very good at… handling my fish pond. I’ve learnt by my mistakes, but I’ve learnt by doing. I’ve spent a lengthy period of time with my pond through lockdown and I’ve become quite good with the breeding. 

My best friend is… my sister Gillian. 

My nickname is… I don’t have one. 

The bravest thing I’ve ever done was… fighting off a badger. He was enormous – I’ve never seen such a huge badger. He’d got himself stuck up a tree and my dog at the time, a Great Dane, was going absolutely berserk. To remedy the situation, I had to ease the badger down with a cricket bat and I just remember shaking with terror. He was huge on his hind legs with those claws out. 

My favourite TV show is… anything that will dull my brain after a long morning of pressured work. I’ve come to the conclusion that David Suchet and Hugh Fraser in Poirot are one of the finest double acts. I’ve also been watching Peter O’Toole’s appearances on The David Letterman Show on YouTube and that’s left me roaring with laughter. 

My perfect evening is… meeting with friends for dinner. I have such wonderful anecdotes from dinner parties and I love seeing my friends from America. I gave a huge one once and I recall someone shouting, “The hostess is down!” because I’d fallen into the fireplace. I’ve certainly missed hosting in lockdown – I just love big dinners at my house. 

My first kiss was… with a guy on a drop handlebar bike. I think I must’ve been in love with him. 

The best thing my parents taught me was… love. They were such adorable parents, they never really had a clue what my life was about. I left home just before my 16th birthday to go to the Royal Academy and my dad thought the Academy was a pub. I also remember my mum asking, “So this Prime Suspect – did you write that?” And I said, “Yes mum, I did.” And she used to say, “Well if the football is on I’m going to miss it.” But she was always there. They loved me and that was enough really. 

My biggest regret is… having laser treatment on my eyes. I was blinded for nearly 18 months. I also regret not taking legal advice on absolutely everything I signed. I was totally taken advantage of at every level, but I guess I only have myself to blame for that. 

I’d like to say sorry to… no one. I treat everybody as I’d like to be treated myself. 

The one thing I’d change about myself is… my stature. I’d never change my brain, but I’d like to change everything else. I’m 5ft 2ins, but I’d like to be very tall with long arms. 

The last time I cried was… when I watched Bears About The House. These wonderful guys rescued two tiny bears and took care of them and loved them, only to have them stolen by poachers. I was in floods of tears. The cruelty is awful. 

The first record I ever bought was… Red Sails In The Sunset by The Platters 

It’s not good for my image, but I… become bereft when I’m with victims of crime. I’m often asked if I think I’d make a good police officer and I wouldn’t – I’d be hopeless. I just get so emotionally involved with the victims. 

My greatest weakness is… fudge. Every single flavour you can think of. 

If I could pass any law… I’d make it impossible for a murderer to be released from prison, even on parole, if they do not disclose to the bereaved family where the body is. I feel very strongly about that. 

I drive… a Smart car, which I believe to be one of the best designs of any vehicle in the world. I’m not sure which one it is, I got it about four years ago, but it’s superb. 

The shop I can’t walk past is… none of them. I’m not very good at shopping. I get into terrible trouble with sizes and colours, so I don’t do it much. 

The most expensive thing I’ve ever splashed out on is… a black velvet Valentino suit I bought for a premier. 

My perfect Sunday is… a lie-in. I have to walk the dog every morning and I’m a total workaholic, so I never have them. I’d love to sleep in until late, then get up and have a BLT with a cup of coffee. 

My favourite place in Britain is… Hampton Court. I took my son there once to the maze and I got completely lost. The attendant had to help me find him. 

My last holiday was to… Turkey. It was about five years ago and I got to go on one of those weird boats they have. 

I’m currently reading… a series by an exceedingly clever Australian writer called Emma Viskic. She’s created the most extraordinary character, Caleb Zelic, who is a deaf mute. The whole of her detective series is so beautifully written and explanatory about what it must be like for a deaf person who relies on reading lips to navigate the world. 

The best day of my life was… my son’s christening. It was a huge party. 

If I had half an hour left on Earth I would… go and see the polar bears. They’re doing this fascinating thing now because the ice is melting and their environments are changing. They’re moving closer to the big brown bears and mating. It’s astonishing. 

Lynda’s Blunt Force, the latest Jane Tennison novel, is out now in hardback for £18.99, e-book and audio. Buried, the first in a new series, is out on September 17 in paperback for £8.99, e-book and audio. 

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