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CSUN Professors Co-authors Financial Thriller

September 27, 2013

Cal State Northridge Professor of Accounting and Information Systems, Christopher G. Jones, along with co-authors Larry Crumbley and Stacy Mastrolia have just released a riveting educational novel for use in spicing up classroom debate about accounting practice and professional ethics.


Accosting the Golden Spire, 3rd ed. (ISBN-13: 978-1611634181) published by Carolina Academic Press (Durham, N.C.) features a financial sleuth who handles balance sheets and income statements the way most detectives handle guns. The hero, Wharton business school professor Dr. Lenny Cramer, and his humorous sidekick put accounting and business concepts into a real-life context, providing a better way of learning the accounting process.





When forensic accountant Lenny Cramer was first introduced in 1989, reviewers called him the “Indiana Jones of the ledger set.” Lee Berton, writing in the Wall Street Journal, found the novel “provides an entertaining read.”


Accounting blogger David Albrecht, in his review of the second edition of Golden Spire called the novel “great entertainment.” Writing in The Summa, Albrect posted: “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.”


The first and second editions of Golden Spire have been used successfully near the end of principles of accounting and at the beginning of intermediate accounting. The third edition is a complete rewrite in response to major changes in accounting theory and practice and, in particular, the breakthrough changes in the political landscape of the setting for the novel – the Southeast Asia country of Myanmar.


Perhaps the biggest change in the text is the focus on accounting ethics. The third edition now includes several ethical dilemmas and an instructor guide for facilitating discussion of accounting ethics and professional codes of conduct. Now the novel can be used in a variety of ways to augment an ethics course. Periodic reading assignments can be used as a springboard for classroom and online discussions, as a basis for reflective journaling, or as a way to reinforce accounting concepts and professional ethics.


Classroom tests of early drafts of this third edition and the previous two published editions have demonstrated repeatedly that students enjoy reading the instructional thriller and learn the accounting concepts more readily than through traditional texts. Typical student feedback is very positive:


“I had never read an accounting novel before. It is a ‘novel’ idea, which helped me to want to read more. Usually accounting books are rather dry. Making the topic more interesting and adding drama and humor is important in teaching. It keeps the learner engaged. I enjoyed reading Golden Spire very much.”



The primary author of the Lenny Cramer series is Larry Crumbley, KPMG Endowed Professor in the Department of Accounting at Louisiana State University. Dr. Cramer has authored 13 educational novels including the Accosting the Golden Spire, 3rd. ed.  His novels involve nail-biting plots that teach while they entertain in subjects such as basic accounting, taxation, cost accounting, forensic accounting, and other accounting and business topics. The New Accountant has called Crumbley the Mark Twain of the accounting profession.


Co-author Jones is an undergraduate alumnus of California State University, Northridge (class of ’74). He earned his MBA from Brigham Young University and his PhD in Education from Utah State University where he specialized in Business Information Systems and Education. He is a licensed Certified Public Accountant with 15 years industry experience in accounting and information technology. Jones now serves as the Interim Associate Dean of the CSUN College of Business and Economics. Prior to his current appointment, he was Director, Master of Science in Accountancy, and taught courses in financial reporting and accounting ethics.


Dr. Jones is the co-author of five business texts, a research monograph, and numerous journal articles on accounting, information technology, and education. Accosting the Golden Spire is his first foray into business fiction. For his next writing project, he plans a teaching novel to supplement the popular entertainment accounting course in the CSUN M.S. Accountancy program.


ACCT 632 Accounting Issues in Select Industries (Entertainment) examines financial accounting and reporting issues in the entertainment industry with special emphasis on filmed entertainment (including television production and distribution), television broadcasting, and music.  The course is currently co-taught by Heather Briggs (Controller, Dreamworks Animation) and Heidemarie Lundblad, PhD (Emeritus Faculty, CSUN).     



Christopher G. Jones


College of Business and Economics

California State University, Northridge

18111 Nordhoff Street

Northridge, CA 91330-8373

Tel: 805-813-6230