I had the audible version of this on pre-order. It was released today and I listened to it while I had breakfast.
I've just finished the first chapter and I'm already impressed.
One of the challenges in a series like this is how you do the "previously on Mercy Thompson" bit to remind me of what happened in the last book, which I read almost a year ago, without making me want to go "I KNOW all this. Get on with it already." Patricia Briggs managed it expertly, weaving the references in to support the current story, making them an integral part of the telling rather than a preface or an interruption.
The other challenge in a book like this is to get the reader hooked in the first chapter. Patricia Briggs is good at this. She often starts by focusing in on the chaotic but happy domestic life of the pack, getting you comfortable, reminding you why you like these people, making you care again and then ends the chapter with the sudden emergence of something that puts Mercy and or the pack under threat. In "Smoke Bitten" she's given this formula a new twist. Within the first few minutes, you know that something is wrong in Mercy's marriage, something that's making her sad, something she doesn't understand. Then you get a demonstration of the problem and only when you're getting immersed in that does something truly weird happen that only Mercy sees.
I love: the elegance of this, the care that goes into the structure, the stumble-free prose. the fast, effective characterisation, the connection of these supernatural creatures to issues and emotions we can all relate to and an apparently endless ability to think up new bad guys.