PROPERTY / Ideal Homes: Lynda La Plante, writer, owns a house in Surrey

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LOCATION: Necker, Richard Branson's island in the British Virgin Islands in the Caribbean. It has everything that I could want: perfect beaches, a clean ocean and no neighbours.

ESSENTIAL LOCAL AMENITIES: Very close, but not actually on my island, I would like fresh fish and fruit markets.

CHARACTER AND CONSTRUCTION: I adore the house that Branson has built on the island - I saw it featured in Hello] magazine. Modern, with a Balinese feel, it is made of stone with a wooden roof.

BEDROOMS: I'd like eight.

BATHROOMS: Ten. Each bedroom would have its own bathroom with a shower, bidet and bath, and there would be two bathrooms at the beach. One would be mine only: I don't like going on toilets that other people have used] RECEPTION ROOMS: The house has a marvellous open-plan sitting-room. I would add a room with a big screen for television and video-viewing. In the dining-room Branson has a long table which isn't as friendly as the big round one I'd install. I'd need a huge study for working in from six till 10 in the morning. I work all day and all night, but when I'm on holiday I do just four hours a day. Very computerised and quite dark, the study would have a library with a vast selection of books on criminology and forensic pathology; as well as autobiographies, biographies, thrillers and classics.

ESSENTIAL KITCHEN FEATURES: Two cooks. My husband doesn't cook, and my chickens come out looking as though they've been in a road accident. My husband is fond of Chinese food so I would have a Chinese cook as well as Jane - my cook-in-residence - who makes things that I like such as sausages, mash and onions. The cold storage in the kitchen would be incredible: there is nothing quite as perfect on a glorious sunny day as eating great food with a wonderful icy cold white wine. There would be a deep freeze with one or two Marks & Spencer frozen things just for me: I am obsessed by microwave dinners] DECORATIVE STYLE: I hope that Branson wouldn't mind, but I would make colour changes in most of the rooms. I love blue and white and floral prints, and not too many frills. I like Branson's bamboo furniture, but I would have one room done out in Ming furniture for my friend Terence Stamp: it's his favourite. He's at our house most weekends, so he would probably move in with me and my husband.

LUXURIES: A speedboat for water-skiing, a heliport and a swimming pool.

SPECIAL OUTBUILDINGS: A well-equipped gymnasium with a boxing ring for my husband, who trains every day. He is a writer, but he also teaches boys to box. He is a Harley-Davidson fanatic, so I'd need to house at least five motorbikes and a mechanic.

VIEW FROM THE WINDOWS: The ocean.

SIZE OF GARDEN: The garden is the whole island - 74 acres.

GARDEN'S BEST FEATURES: Its wildness, its secrecy, its waterfalls, its rock gardens: visiting children would think it a magic island. There would also be perfumed flowers everywhere and a herb garden.

MOTTO OVER THE DOOR: 'I earned this.'

WHAT IT WOULD COST: Richard Branson purchased Necker Island for dollars 300,000 in 1978, and it is now estimated to be worth many millions. Lynda La Plante could rent the house, at a cost of dollars 9,900 (currently about pounds 6,400) per night. If she invited more than 10 guests, the rate would go up to dollars 11,900 (about pounds 7,700) per night. The island can accommodate 24 guests and the cost includes a staff of 19 and all meals and drinks. For further information contact Necker Island (BVI) Ltd, tel: 091 727 8000.

'Cold Shoulder', Lynda La Plante's latest thriller, has recently been published by Mac-millan, price pounds 14.99.

(Photograph omitted)

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