Follow TV Tropes


Series / Frankie Drake Mysteries

Go To

Frankie Drake Mysteries is a Canadian TV series, which premiered on CBC in 2017. The series is Historical Detective Fiction that mixes Crime, Mystery, Period Drama and Noir. It was created by Carol Hay and Michelle Ricci, and is set in the same universe as Murdoch Mysteries.

Frankie Drake (Lauren Lee Smith) is the first female private detective in 1920s Toronto. Frankie's best friend Trudy is her crime solving partner. Mary Shaw is a Morality Officer who comes from a law enforcement family, and she longs to follow in her father's footsteps. Flo completes the team: She's a morgue attendant. She's also a war widow who's putting herself through medical school at night.

Link to the official website.

The series provides examples of the following tropes:

  • 10-Minute Retirement: Mary loses her job as Morality Officer when Detective Grayson catches her snooping around his desk after she discovers him hiding and removing evidence from a crime scene. She subsequently joins the Drake detective agency full-time... at least until she helps solve the case and catch the actual dirty coppers Greyson was tracking, and is restored to her normal position.
  • The Boxing Episode: "Counterpunch" begins with Frankie and Trudy breaking into a boxing gym to look for a missing husband, and Frankie later fights at the same gym as a ploy to nab a crooked cop.
  • The Chanteuse: Trudy sings jazz, and frequently shows off her pipes, and when out on a night on the town has the looks to match.
  • Con Artist: Frankie was raised by a pair of con artists, and she learned more than her share of the same tricks of the trade as a result. This allows her to make use of them herself as a detective, and more than one case (especially when her mother is involved) is cracked by running a con on the baddie of the week.
  • Culture Police: This is Mary's job. As a Morality Officer, her position exists to police the length of womens' skirts, deal with prostitutes, enforce curfews, enforce prohibition, and address other violations of "public decency." Mary finds the work meaningless and degrading, and despairs that she's not allowed to be a real officer because she's a woman. That said, she does have some actual police powers, including the power to make an arrest.
  • Distaff Counterpart: Frankie could be seen as one to William Murdoch. They're both highly skilled detectives working in historical Toronto, with Frankie being a private investigator as opposed to Murdoch being a police officer.
  • Downer Ending: Due to the show being cancelled, the series as a whole ends up being this: Frankie reunites with her thought to be dead father only for him to die for real, Mary's exposure of the corrupt detectives in her department has put her career and likely also her life in jeopardy, and Trudy's threat of exposing the fraudulent insurance agency she briefly worked for leads to her being presumably shot. The end.
  • Embarrassing First Name: Narrowly avoided. Frankie's mother wanted to name her Cleopatra, but her father prevailed. It doesn't stop Norah from embarrassing Frankie over it.
  • Eternal Sexual Freedom: Played with. As it's The Roaring '20s women are experiencing their first significant cultural revolution in the aftermath of World War I. However Frankie still faces an uphill battle as a private detective, and Mary is relegated to the Morality Office rather than being allowed to become a full constable. Additionally, the case in "Out on a Limb" involves a woman who faced inappropriate attentions from her boss, and the lawyer refused to take the case both because of the boss's connections, and the fact she was pregnant, making it almost impossible to win. Additionally, Frankie's on-and-off relationship with black boxer Moses Page is effectively used to attack her in the press.
  • Foe Romance Subtext: A bootlegging mobster shows a clear interest in Frankie. He even goes so far as to say he wanted to invite her to join his gang, although he knew she'd never take him up on it.
  • Historical Detective Fiction: It is set in the Canada of the 1920s. Frankie Drake is the first woman who became a Private Detective. Mary Shaw is a morality officer in Toronto's police force who helps Frankie with her cases from time to time.
  • Historical Domain Character: Dr. Frederick Banting (one of the University of Toronto researchers who discovered insulin), Coco Chanel, Agatha Christie, and then-Toronto Star reporter Ernest Hemingway make appearances.
  • The Joy of X: The show uses this popular pattern, [X] Mysteries.
  • Master of Unlocking: Being the daughter of two con artists and a government spy during World War I, Frankie is an expert at picking locks. Her skills come in handy on multiple cases. Subverted when Trudy tries and fails at it, and grumbles that Frankie makes it look so easy.
  • The Roaring '20s: Set in Toronto in the mid-1920s.
  • Spin-Off: Of Murdoch Mysteries. Crabtree, Brackenreid, and Watts have all appeared in the series, while Murdoch himself is Famed In-Story. Frankie could also be seen as a Distaff Counterpart of Murdoch, with Frankie being a private investigator compared to Murdoch being a police officer.
  • Young Future Famous People: In "Radio Daze," Mary gets close to a radioman named Huey. At the episode's end, he reveals his real name is Foster Hewitt who would go on to become the incredibly popular announcer for Hockey Night in Canada.