By far the slowest-moving and most sedate of the Tintin books, the Castafiore Emerald was concieved as a narrative exercise by Herge. Becoming disillusioned with his own most famous creation, the cartoonist wanted to see if he could maintain suspense troughout sixty-two pages in which nothing much happens. Consequently it is a story without villains, guns or danger, but rich in comic setpieces, red herrings and colourful characters. Technically, it is amongst the most sophisticated of the Tintin albums.
Bianca Castafiore, famous operatic Diva and scourge of Captain Haddock, decides to invite herself to Marlinspike (Tintin and Haddock's home) for a holiday. All manner of mayhem ensues, including a sprained ankle, a homicidal parrot and rumours that Castafiore and Haddock are engaged (much to the Captain's horror). Castafiore's most prized jewel goes missing, seemingly stolen by Gypsies. But they are vindicated when, in a deliberately anti-climactic denoument, the culprit turns out to have been a magpie. The action never leaves the confines of the Marlinspike estate.