... slips down as richly, easily and pleasurably as a tablespoonful of Beluga caviar. If it is the best of the Maxwell biographies it is because Preston is the best of the writers to tackle the subject. He has a novelist’s eye for the grotesque, a journalist’s inside knowledge of newspapers, an effective deadpan style, and has done plenty of original research, interviewing scores of witnesses, including three of Maxwell’s children (Ian, Christine and Isabel) and Rupert Murdoch ... On and on it goes, until by the time one reaches the description of his second autopsy, the reader may well start to feel morally queasy, like a member of the audience crowding round to gawp at the Elephant Man ... The truth is that all the bankers and businessmen, politicians and journalists who queue up to denigrate and revile Maxwell were happy at the time to put up with his abuse and his grotesque personal habits as long as they were enjoying his hospitality and taking his money. They sucked up to him. They made him possible — so much so that I closed this engrossing, amusing, appalling book with an odd sneaking sympathy for the old brute — and a profound desire never to read about him again.
... very entertaining ... Preston comes to his subject with the advantage both of hindsight and his great skill at exposing hypocrisy and subterfuge ... Preston has an eye for the telling detail and an ear for the revealing quote.
Many books have been written about Maxwell, but this is as near as we may get to the definitive version ... The basic facts are, of course, well known, but the author has managed to get beneath his subject’s skin.