PERSONAL: Married; children.
ADDRESSES: Home—Missouri City, TX. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Random House/Ballantine, 1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036.
CAREER: Chef, teacher, and writer. Worked as a chef for a gourmet catering company in Houston, TX; English teacher in secondary schools.
AWARDS, HONORS: Shamus Award nomination, 1998, for A Whisper of Rage.
If Wishes Were Horses, Ballantine (New York, NY), 1996.
People in Glass Houses, Ballantine (New York, NY), 1997.
A Whisper of Rage, Ballantine (New York, NY), 1997.
A Catered Christmas, Ballantine (New York, NY), 1998.
Dead Man's Broth, Ballantine (New York, NY), 1999.
Contributor to anthologies and magazines, including Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine.
SIDELIGHTS: Tim Hemlin drew on his early career as a chef to create the character of amateur detective Neil Marshall, who cooks and sleuths in Houston, Texas. In his debut novel, If Wishes Were Horses, creative writing graduate student Neil is struggling to make ends meet and about to be divorced. Taking a job as a chef for a high-class caterer to make ends meet, Neil becomes involved in the dark side of horse breeding and theft when his best friend, breeder Jason Keys, is murdered and Neil becomes a suspect. A Publishers Weekly contributor called the book "a very promising, quite smart launch to a new series."
In A Whisper of Rage Neil accidentally witnesses the shooting of a Houston private investigator. Because the gunmen think he can identify them, Neil is forced to run. While trying to keep himself alive, he must also learn the identities of the killers who are after him. Amy Rabinovitz reviewing the novel in the Houston Chronicle, found that Hemlin's "characters are believable, and the novel shows definite potential for the series."
People in Glass Houses revolves around the stabbing of a congressional candidate in Neil's kitchen during a fundraiser. Neil's assistant, who had been dating the man's guard, is caught with the knife but denies killing the candidate. In another plot development, a student disappears and sends Kerouac-like poetry to Neil that hints of killing a congressional candidate. A reviewer for Publishers Weekly commented that "the book has all the ingredients—and the neat presentation—of a perfect meal."
A Catered Christmas begins six days before Christmas and finds Neil in the depths of depression over the recent deaths of his father and two friends. Neil's Santa Claus look-alike grandfather shows up, obviously disturbed by something, and eventually is revealed to be a suspect in the murder of his mining partner's wife back in Colorado. While Neil hides his grandfather from the Colorado police, someone breaks into his landlord's house and knifes the landlord's Doberman.
Dead Man's Broth revolves around the culinary world of Houston. When Warren Clay, assistant to caterer and television show chef Sherwood Welles, turns up dead Neil becomes a prime suspect. Meanwhile, Neil is also targeted by death threats which he believes are due to an encounter he had with skinheads. In a review for Mystery Reader, Andy Plonka noted that Dead Man's Broth "does not suffer from lack of action but initially it is difficult to keep the various subplots straight and to figure out their relationship to each other." A Publishers Weekly contributor commented that the author "spices his South Texas brew with a lively cast of characters and fast-paced plotting."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Houston Chronicle, July 30, 1997, Amy Rabinovitz, review of A Whisper of Rage.
Publishers Weekly, June 17, 1996, review of If Wishes Were Horses, p. 62; September 8, 1997, review of People in Glass Houses, p. 73; November 9, 1998, review of A Catered Christmas, p. 73; October 25, 1999, review of Dead Man's Broth, p. 78.
MysteryReader.com, http://www.themysteryreader.com/ (February 1, 2005), Andy Plonka, review of Dead Man's Broth.