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Le Carre thriller tops list of audio books
Cowdog tale is perfect for kids on long road trips

For commuters and people who just enjoy a "good listen," here is a list of the best and brightest books on tape:SINGLE & SINGLE, by John Le Carre, read by the author; Simon & Schuster Audio, four cassettes, six hours, abridged

The Cold War may be over, but John Le Carre is still writing thrillers. The best-selling author of such books as "The Spy Who Came in From the Cold" and "A Perfect Spy" is busy with the messy post-Cold War era.

The threats come in the form of a sophisticated collaboration between Russian criminals and a distinguished English investment firm, trading illicit goods and laundering the profits. Le Carre's themes are familiar: betrayal and redemption. In this case, it's Oliver Single, a young lawyer who winds up spying on his own father, a long-standing London financier.

Le Carre focuses on the emotional turmoil of Oliver, a smart, caring but deeply conflicted son who must turn against his father. Le Carre's narration is skillful, and his ability to move fluidly through Russian, English and German accents and still tap the emotional layers of the story is impressive.

HANK THE COWDOG, THE CASE OF THE VANISHING FISHHOOK, by John R. Erickson, read by the author; Audio Refinery, two cassettes, 2 1/2 hours

A former cowboy who lives on a Panhandle ranch, Erickson has made a nice career for himself chronicling the adventures of Hank the Cowdog. He has written some 45 books, most of them part of the Hank the Cowdog series. The children's books revolve around the escapades of Hank, Head of Ranch Security, and his deputies, who defend their ranch against all kinds of threats.

In this latest adventure, Hank is supervising Little Alfred's fishing trip when he ends up with a fishhook in his stomach. These are fun books, and a nice way to spend those long summer road trips. Erickson, who does all the voices, even contributes some banjo music. The books are easy to order through Erickson's Web site: www.hankthecowdog.com.

CONVERSATIONS WITH GOD, by Neale Donald Walsch, read by the author with Edward Asner and Ellen Burstyn; Audio Literature, two cassettes, three hours

Walsch, founder of ReCreation, a personal-growth foundation, relates a series of extraordinary conversations he had with God, represented with gender equity by the voices of Edward Asner and Ellen Burstyn.

Among other things, the voices tell Walsch that he has had more than 600 lives, that right and wrong are relative terms, and that personal faith and becoming aware of the God of our understanding is the ultimate goal in life. This is the first of a best-selling, three-part series of dialogues.