‘The Castafiore Emerald’ by Hergé, translated by Leslie Lonsdale-Cooper and Michael Turner

Of course I’m serious. A perfect plot, immaculately paced, beautifully rendered. The boy detective and his alcoholic friend host opera diva Bianca Castafiore, her entourage and her diamonds at Marlinspike Hall. There is hilarity, cleverness, intrigue, a sense of justice, romance, deft characterisation – all of it as preposterous and as entertaining as an aria from Rossini. A master class in story creation.

First published in 1963