About a week ago or so, I received a package from Larry Crumbley containing one of his educational novels, Accosting the Golden Spire. Last night I read it. It was a fun read.
D. Larry Crumbley, CPA, Cr.FA, CFFA, FCPA, is the KPMG Endowed Professor at Louisiana State University. A tax professor, he has been a prolific author. He has written 55 books in whole or in part, including 13 educational novels. He is the author (or co-author) of over 100 journal articles. Honestly, it would take me a half dozen lifetimes to accomplish all that he has in one.
Larry is passionate about writing. He is also very good. Strike that, he is excellent, at least in his fiction works.
Why does he write educational novels? From a newspaper article reprinted on the LSU web site:
Crumbley said he writes novels about forensic accounting because people tend to learn better about a subject when it unfolds in the form of a story. “Hopefully, I’ve made forensic accountants popular, because the main characters in my novels are forensic accountants,” he said.
From the New York Times (April 17, 2011), Crumbley is quoted as saying,
All my novels have massive plots and I kill a lot of people. If I teach a tax [or accounting] principle and it involves someone getting shot, people will remember that.
Larry has written 13 novels. His first three (including Accosting the Golden Spire) were published in 1988, the most recent (Trap Doors and Trojan Horses) was published last year. They include:
- Dangerous Hoops: A Forensic Marketing Action Adventure
- Big R: A Forensic Accounting Action Adventure
- Trap Doors and Trojan Horses
- Deadly Art Puzzle: Accounting for Murder
- Simon the Incredible.
- The Bottom Line is Betrayal
- Costly Reflections in a Midas Mirror.
- Accosting the Golden Spire
- The Ultimate Rip-off: A Taxing Tale
- Computer Encryptions in Whispering Caves
- Chemistry in Whispering Caves
- Nonprofit Sleuths: Follow the Money
- Burmese Caper
Accosting the Golden Spire is not a great work of fiction. It is, however, great entertainment. There is a difference. I only read great works when I am forced to, such as when they have been assigned for a literature class. I read entertaining novels because I want to for the fun and enjoyment. As I say, Accosting the Golden Spire is great entertainment.
It is also educational. Crumbley’s formula seems to contain three ingredients: (1) a story about taxes, fraud or auditing, (2) including several details about the tax, fraud or accounting issue, and (3) abruptly inserting a paragraph about some accounting issue that is unrelated to the storyline. I can see how students would like the first two ingredients. Ingredient 3, however, is annoying.
Can a student learn about accounting by reading one of Crumbley’s novels? Yes, especially if it is about a fraud auditing issue. Will all students learn by reading a Crumbley novel? I’m not so sure. However, I think that most students will learn as much, if not more, from a Crubley novel than from a textbook. More importantly, I think the lessons will be retained for a much longer period of time than from traditional instruction.
I like Accosting the Golden Spire, and think it can be used in an auditing or forensic accounting class. If you are looking for something to freshen up your classes, then have them read this book and then evaluate what the investigator did correctly, and incorrectly.
Why do I like the novel? It is entertaining, and as satisfying as many Hollywood movies. This is not a dull, dry, boring book. The novel starts off which a character sketch of one of the bad guys (there are others). This one kills a little dog (for peeing on his front door), in a a fit of temper hurls a brick through a restaurant’s front window because management wouldn’t seat him on a busy night, frames a professor for plagiarizing, and kills another professor.
It deals with a fraud investigation. Of course, there’s the original fraud. Then there’s the framing of the fraud investigator, the framing of the fraud originator (by another bad guy), and how the fraud investigator figures it all out. And, it is competently written. The plot has twists and turns, most of which I was unable to see coming.
I had enough enjoyment that I ordered his latest novel, Trap Doors and Trojan Horses. I expect it to be entertaining, and I’m curious to see how his writing style evolved from 1988 to 2009. As an indication of my sincerity, here’s the receipt from my order:
Debit and credit – - David Albrecht