TAMU-CC Accounting Professor at RELLIS Uses Novel Writing to Help Teach Accounting

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – A Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi professor has found a “novel” way to teach accounting: by writing novels that help capture students’ imaginations and interest and show them how they can sharpen their accounting investigative skills.

Dr. Larry Crumbley, a College of Business accounting professor at the RELLIS Campus, is among the nation’s best-known researchers in the oil and gas accounting and forensic accounting areas. He is the editor of two journals, the “Journal of Forensic & Investigative Accounting” and “Oil, Gas & Energy Quarterly,” and his research has been cited by more than 1,400 academic researchers. 

Crumbley also writes educational novels to illustrate accounting concepts in a way to help forensic accounting students seek out the facts. He believes that to be an excellent accountant, you have to be a detective. To offset the massive frauds and corruption that have occurred in recent years, accountants must understand the criminal mind and adopt forensic accounting techniques in their daily work.

Students remember more when faced with scenarios that include the action of a person and the element of surprise, Crumbley said.  So, he began writing educational novels in the late 1980s.  He now has written 13 educational novels, including two in 2019, to show that accounting is not merely number crunching by using a forensic accountant as the main character. 

Crumbley’s goal is to spice up ho-hum subjects to make students understand that the accounting profession is much better than the stereotype image they have – think the television program “CSI.”  According to the Wall Street Journal, his novels prove the phrase “suspense accounting is not necessarily an oxymoron.”

The potential murderers are numerous in his fourth edition, fast-paced Philip Marlowe-type adventure entitled “Costly Reflections in a Midas Mirror.”

“Lenny Cramer and his life offer rich possibilities for exploring the construction of an accountant’s life,” said Professor Dan Stone in a review of an earlier edition of this cost accounting novel. “The novel has a sense of humor, it entertains, and it even educates.  Ultimately, Crumbley and his pioneering co-authors deserve our thanks and praise for bravely creating a new genre of scholarship despite considerable overt hostility from both in and outside the academy.”

“The Journal of Applied Management and Entrepreneurship” wrote, “The academically oriented mystery novel ‘Costly Reflections in a Midas Mirror’ is an excellent aid in the teaching of managerial accounting in that it vividly brings a wide range of interesting situations to the reader and then applies well-explained examples of numerous managerial accounting concepts and practices. The book provides an exceptionally well-blended presentation of an intriguing mystery novel and a well-written managerial accounting text that makes for an overall enjoyable read.”

His second edition “Deadly Art Puzzle: An Advanced Accounting Action Adventure” mixes fraud, murder, art, ethics, taxation, and accounting together to get a better way of learning the accounting process. Martin Burnside, owner of an art gallery, goes to Glenn Falls to judge an art exhibit.  As a retired CPA and part-time professor, he uses his forensic accounting background to solve a “who dun’ it” plot.  Along the way, business acquisition practices and advanced accounting concepts are told in a way that students, practitioners, and instructors will find gripping as well as informative.

His fourth edition of “Accosting the Golden Spire,” which teaches financial accounting, also was released by Carolina Academic Press in 2019.  In this novel Dr. Lenny Cramer, a professor at the Wharton School, operates a small forensic accounting firm, teaches, testifies before Congress, and appears as an expert witness in a court battle.  But the real action occurs when he investigates financial fraud in a friend’s jade shop. Using his forensic skills, he uncovers a plot to steal treasures from a remote Asian country and almost gets himself killed trying to stop the heist.