October 1918. The war on the Western Front is all butover for most soldiers - except the ambitious Lieutenant Henri d'Aulnay Pradelle. Desperate for one last chance of promotion, Pradelle sends two scouts over the top, and secretly shoots them in the back to incite his men to heroicaction once more.
When Albert Maillard realises how the two soldiers must have died, Pradelle is ready to go to any lengths to silence him. Pushed into a shell hole and buried alive, Albert is left to face a horrific death -or he is until another soldier, douard P ricourt digs him out in the nick of time, loosing half his face to a piece of flying shrapnel for his troubles.
So the fates and fortunes of this unlikely pair are bound together. Back in civilian life, both struggle to adjust to a society whose reverence for its dead cannot quite match its resentment for those who survived. But Albert and douard conspire to enact an audacious form of revenge against the country that abandoned them - first to the trenches and then to penury and despair - with a scheme to swindle the whole of France on an epic scale.
Meanwhile, believing her brother killed in action, douard's sister Madeleine has married Henri d'Aulnay Pradelle, who is running a little scam of his own...
The Great Swindle