The Cleaner Case or the Inner Circle Civil War is the case that gives the plot of Max Payne 2.
After the events of the Valkyr Case, Alfred Woden, head of the Inner Circle gained sole power after letting his colleagues died in the Asgard shootout. Max Payne was bailed out as part of a deal with Woden earlier for killing Horne.
Vladimir Lem, who is Woden's protege, exploited from the Punchinello Mafia who suffered from Max Payne's rampage in the Valkyr Case and grew his Russian Mob. However, this was not enough for Lem as he wanted to be head of the Inner Circle but Woden won't allow it.
In 2003, Woden have cancer which made him disabled and limit his responsibility as leader. Due to this, it caused a civil war between the Inner Circle members between Woden and Lem. The Squeaky Cleaning Company, or commonly known Cleaners, were created by Lem to use them as hitmen to kill any opponents who are against Lem. Mona Sax is hired to support Woden side and Max Payne join the war unwittingly.
It starts with the uncovering of an unknown covert group of assassins, the Cleaners, at Annie Finn's gun workshop, a police shootout at the warehouse and recovery of a number of dead bodies in the building.
The case quickly develops over a few rainy nights, and the NYPD men are barely quick enough to follow the trail of piling dead bodies, results of many fierce firefights all over New York City. The case overlaps with Valerie Winterson's investigation of US Senator Sebastian Gates' homicide and a mob war between Vincent Gognitti's men and the Russian Mafia.
At one point, from an investigator of the case, Max Payne becomes one of the wanted perpetrators and fugitives.
In the end, the Cleaners turn out to be one faction's foot soldiers in a war between members of the highly influential secret society, the Inner Circle.
Behind the scenes
The name of the case as the "Cleaner Case" as such is never mentioned in Max Payne 2. The term is a conjecture used by the Max Payne Wiki editors to concisely refer to the events of the second game of the series. It follows the trend set by the term "Valkyr Case" which describes the events of the first game. However, the Valkyr Case is a real canonical case name.