‘I left my heart in Brixton’

Iona Cleave talks to Linda Regan about her latest crime thriller set in Brixton

Brixton-born Linda Regan, actor and author of eight successful crime novels, returns with a new “strong crime” thriller set in and around Brixton – The Burning Question.

Suspense, thrill and excitement fill the pages of the latest instalment of the DCI Bangham series. Bangham and his team must find the links between arson attacks resulting in the deaths of young women.

Is it hard to get into the mind of a serial killer? “No, I don’t know why. I’m such an un-violent person, but it wasn’t hard to get into their mind, I guess that’s the actor in me, I played Lady Macbeth,” says Regan.

A career of being a professional actor, she says, also helps with her development of characters. “Characters are the most important thing in writing. You want to journey with a character – they draw you in whether they are good or bad,” says Regan. “As an actor all my life it’s my favourite bit – I love inventing characters in books and inventing dialogues.”

Acting on shows like The Bill and Crime Watch and shadowing police forces has helped Regan to learn the technical side of police work. Yet, the ideas “all come from my head”.

Her books touch on real issues in South London, such as knife and gang crime. “People say my books are strong and violent but that is what’s happening on our streets,” says Regan.

The past as well as the present inspires her writing, and Brixton takes a key part in this. “It’s my home, it’s where I was born, it’s where I’ve grown up, and I feel very strongly about it,” explains the author.

Growing up in the time of the riots in 1981 had a strong effect on Regan. “I followed them very closely and was heartbroken by it,” she says. “I saw Brixton being burnt down in front of me.” 

It became something she wanted to write about and her last book, The Terror Within, opens to a scene of riots reminiscent of this time in Brixton’s history.

Despite leaving London, Regan says: “I left my heart in Brixton and I will always want to write about it.”

This sentiment is echoed across her writing – in descriptions of landscape, architecture, history and people – Brixton is ever-present.

The Burning Question is available from local bookshops and online.