The Castafiore Emerald (1963) is the 21st adventure of Tintin
, mostly taking place within the walls of Marlinspike Hall. The protagonists never leave their home in what is considered the most "sedate" tale in the series.
The tale begins with Captain Haddock encountering a camp of Gypsies setting up in a dump just downwind from Marlinspike Hall. Captain Haddock then generously lets them camp out closer to his house. This minor event is followed by the news that Bianca Castafiore, Italian opera diva and Abhorrent Admirer
to Haddock, has decided to spend her vacation in the Hall. The Captain decides its time to leave the hall for a vacation of his own. In his haste to leave, Haddock steps on a damaged staircase and sprains his ankle, ensuring that he is not going anywhere.
Castafiore's stay in the Hall turns out to be eventful. One of her prized emeralds goes missing and suspicions fall on the gypsies, while the press misinterprets a random comment of Calculus for an announcement that Bianca is marrying Haddock, resulting in coverage of the events by tabloids and television, along with congratulations from friends around the globe.
- Accidental Misnaming: As usual, Castafiore calls Haddock by a different name every time, which confuses the tabloids trying to romantically link them.
- Angrish: When Captain Haddock receives a phone call from Thompson and Thomson congratulating him over his Tabloid Melodrama-reported engagement to Castafiore, he lets out a series of inarticulate angry syllables before slamming the receiver down.
- Chekhov's Gun: Tintin and Captain Haddock spotted a magpie in the front yard of Marlinspike very early on in the book. Later in the story, Bianca Castafiore's titular emerald was stolen. It turns out the thief was the magpie.
- Crooked Contractor: Criminally Lazy variation. Mr. Bolt takes several weeks to get around to fixing Captain Haddock's steps. The lingering damaged steps cause one serious accident and several minor ones. Bolt isn't motivated by financial needs, but by sheer apathy.
- Dream Sequence: Captain Haddock dreams he is listening to an opera singing parrot, while he is seated completely nude in an audience consisting of nothing but parrots.
- The End: The last panel of the story has Bianca's pet parrot, Iago, saying, "Blistering barnacles, that's the end!"
- Famous-Named Foreigner: The pianist Igor Wagner seems to be named after Igor Stravinsky and Richard Wagner.
- Fair Play Whodunnit: The book subverts this trope, as pretty much all the clues pointing towards the identity of thief turn out to be false, put there just to mislead the reader.
- I'll Never Tell You What I'm Telling You: Thompson and Thomson are incapable of keeping their thoughts to themselves.
Thomson or Thompson: No, our lips are sealed. We can't tell you whom we suspect, but it isn't anyone in the house. Mum's the word, you know.
Thompson or Thomson: Yes, dumb's the word, that's our motto. So we're not allowed to tell you about the gypsies, though we suspected them from the start...
- Impairment Shot: A very blurry panel depicts the characters' reaction after viewing a very buggy color-television broadcast.
- Mind Your Step: A broken stair in Marlinspike Hall puts Captain Haddock in a wheelchair after he forgets about it. Several other characters trip on the same spot throughout the album. At the end of the story, when Haddock is out of the wheelchair and the stair is freshly repaired, he forgets about it again, steps on the still setting marble, and sends himself flying, undoing the repair in the process.
- No Antagonist: Though everyone assumes there is until the end.
- Roma: A camp of Gypsies settles up in a dump, just downwind from Marlinspike Hall. Captain Haddock then generously lets them camp out closer to his house, to the objection of his butler Nestor. Things soon go missing from the manor, which leads to everyone looking at the gypsies suspiciously. Turns out a magpie did it.
- Shaggy Dog Story: The jewel thief was a bird. Every single prior clue and lead-in was a Red Herring.
- Slice of Life: Herge described the writing of this story as "trying to see if he can maintain tension in a plot where nothing actually happens."
- Tabloid Melodrama: Paris-Flash's cover promises the wedding of Castafiore to Captain Haddock (who can't stand her voice), and she tells him not to take it too seriously, as she's been linked to hundreds of other men in the past. She later gets upset about the Tempo di Roma's unauthorized expose on "La diva ed il pappagallo" (The diva and the parrot).
- Thieving Magpie: Tintin has a Eureka Moment when he hears that Castafiore, still missing her emerald, will be performing in La Gazza Ladra (Thieving Magpie). In said opera by Rossini, the charges of theft against a servant girl are resolved when they discover a magpie stole it. Sure enough, Tintin finds the emerald in a magpie's nest.