The Castafiore Emerald is unique in the Tintin series for taking place entirely at Marlinspike Hall. Most of this series takes place around the world, in various exotic locations- that's one of the draws of the series- but here we get intrigue a little closer to home for Tintin and Haddock. It's more a comedy of errors than an adventure at times- but they also get their fair share of the usual shenanigans. Picking up after the events of Tintin in Tibet, this one examines the aftermath of a gypsy camp sprouting up near the Haddock estate. Tintin and Haddock are relaxing after their adventures in Asia, and while out for a walk they discover the camp situated near a landfill. They soon discover that the gypsies, who are looked down upon by the communities they pass through, have been forbidden to camp anywhere other than the landfill. Haddock, offended by this, offers to let them camp on his property near a stream.
Returning to the house Tintin and Haddock soon discover they are about to have a houseguest- Bianca Castafiore, the opera diva (and nemesis of Haddock). Chaos ensues when Bianca descends upon the house with her entourage, the jewels she constantly misplaces, and a bevy of gossipy journalists who snoop about the grounds. The plot gets zany from there with an obnoxious parrot and a missing emerald- the crown jewel of Bianca's collection- and of course there is no shortage of suspects, including the gypsies of course. The truth turns out to be a little more complicated however.
This one is a lot of fun and I loved seeing all the action take place at Marlinspike. It's a nice change of pace from the usual travelogue style adventures, and there are enough red herrings that you almost certainly will not guess the identity of the jewel thief. Most of the usual supporting cast makes an appearance, and this of course only adds to the zaniness. To top it off, the ridiculously hard of hearing Professor Calculus is also staying at the mansion, and Thompson and Thomson, the bumbling detectives, inevitably make an appearance when the emerald goes missing. Even Jolyon Wagg, the dapper insurance salesman, shows up.
This episode pokes fun at the journalistic excesses of celebrity culture and also examines the social stigma endured by gypsies. In fact even that word is falling out of favor as people realize it can be pejorative and inappropriate. Otherwise this is a fun adventure with madcap humor and the usual goofy plot developments. This episode takes place after Tintin in Tibet but as with most of the Tintin books it can be read as a standalone with no problem.