The title character and narrator is Alexander Frapkin. He's the author of fifteen novels, so far. He's also paranoid and given to masturbation, and he believes he'll eventually be recognized as one of America's great writers. Just as soon as he can write his masterpiece. In the meantime, he's turning out series books, like those in his Triggerman series. In fact, the novel opens with an excerpt from that series, and as soon as I read it, I knew without question that Levinson had written books like that. The passage could have been lifted right out of one. So I checked, and, sure enough, Levinson is credited by Pat Hawk with having written at least three novels in the Sharpshooter series as Bruno Rossi.
Later on, Frapkin mentions in passing that he's written a kung-fu novel. Back to Hawk to discover that as "Lee Chang" Levinson wrote book #6 in the series Kung Fu, featuring Mace.
Near the end of the book, Frapkin writes a tough cop book. Hawk tells us that Levinson wrote book #3 in Nelson de Mille's Ryker series. He also wrote Joe Blaze #2, The Thrill Killers. There's a nice inside joke when the editor tells Frapkin that he needs to change the name of the cop from Benson to Shanahan. Frapkin's already half through with the book, so he complains about making the corrections. The editor says she has a hundred starving writers who'd be glad to write the book if Frapkin doesn't want to do it, so he caves. So what's the joke? Well, thirty-five years ago, give or take, I wrote a review of these books for some fanzine or other, maybe The Armchair Detective, and one of the things I mentioned was that the names of the cops are all mixed up in the books, maybe in more than one. Maybe Levinson's letting us know how it happened back in those days before "search and replace."
But back to the plot. Frapkin does get his big break, but his mental problems don't allow him to accept it. The Last Buffoon's not a particularly good book, but for those of us who love the old paperbacks and remember the series books, it's good entertainment.