Clifford’s War: Without End, an Irreverent Comedic Thriller by J. Denison Reed

The Bottom Line: An irreverent comedic thriller that combines a high-octane plot with regular doses of levity. 

Following the murder of a U.S. Senator, Commander Doyle Hamilton is backed by party leaders to run in a special election to fill the seat. Doyle needs to assemble a team he can trust, and among the first to enlist is private investigator Clifford Dee. Doyle was once Clifford’s commanding officer, and he makes it blatantly clear that Clifford’s team will be expected to dig up information that he could never get government authorization for. He’s also asked the Army Ranger-turned-PI to work closely with a rival who won’t make it easy for him. 

Meanwhile, Clifford’s partner Bailey has taken a curious case involving two rap stars, a weapons smuggling ring and potential assassins (or as Clifford thinks of it, “That rap thing, right? It’s literally the only thing paying the bills right now”). 

While both plotlines would have serious ramifications in the real world, Reed’s eye-rolling, wise-cracking characters are hardly white-knuckling it. Author J. Denison Reed has created a cast that is a blast to spend time with, and he excels at putting them in situations that defy conventions. In the opening scene, for example, Clifford and apprentice Sara are racing toward what seems like a crisis situation, with Clifford barking at Sara to drive ever faster and more dangerously. Turns out that the only crisis is the kidney stone that Clifford is about to pass. 
As for the dead Senator, Sara apparently doesn’t read the news – and is blown away when she learns of his death (it was also in the case file Clifford gave her, which she did not read). Throughout, characters are just as likely to obsess over lighthearted minutiae (like the discovery of a vintage VCR) than they are over either case. The chemistry works well throughout, and the jokes land more often than not. The blend of action and comedy work so well that it’s easy to imagine Simon Pegg (Sean of the Dead, Mission Impossible) or Brad Pitt (Bullet Train, Oceans Eleven) playing the leads in a cinematic version.

Let’s hope Clifford’s War will be coming soon to a streaming service near you.

Bella Wright

Bella Wright blogs about books, film and media.

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