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I read it roughly 1999 but it was a tatty old paperback, I can't remember anything about the book cover. The story is a small team of 3 or 4 who work on commission to ensure some order in the galaxy by whatever means necessary. I think the team was a girl and an ex military guy plus an older guy and also a very flamboyant guy. He was like a cross mixture of Boy George plus early David Bowie, with the fashion sense of Cat from Red Dwarf.

I got the feeling that the book I read was 'mid-series', the main plot section I remember is they had to assassinate an Empress of a cluster of habitable worlds but she had very tight security. They faked up they were Ambassadors from another star system and got invited to a Ball at her palace.

Flamboyant guy was from a world where male beauty was highly prized and he glammed up at every opportunity,he went OTT for this occasion, the macho guards were amused as he arrived in a gold dress and covered in gold body makeup, he minced up to the Empress and kissed the back of her hand, leaving a golden lips imprint there, he said it was a sign of fealty so she left it on her hand to show off.

An hour later he left, one hour after that the slow poison from the lipstick reached her blood and she fell dead - by that time he'd scoured his mouth and taken the antidote. That scene is really all I have, possibly it was a fix up book with each chapter being another story but I'm not 100% about that.

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  • I'm sure I've read this, and can remember odd details but not any names. Think one character was 'Doc'? Another was a small alien that wore something like a trench coat, and none of them knew what it looked like. – Michael Jul 27 '20 at 23:17
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Prompted my own memory with mention of the trench coat. I think this is one of the Mag Force 7 novels by Margaret Weis; The Knights Of The Black Earth

It's a team of seven members. The leader is a cyborg, and one of the members is a fopposh, drug using, flamboyant character who uses poisoned lipstick as a means of assassination. There's a line somewhere about him being sedated, it having little effect because of the amount if drugs he takes recreationally, wandering around and sending his co-ordinates to them team, then 'settling back to enjoy the sensation of being heavily sedated.' He nearly refuses to wear a disguise because it involves overalls, which are an affront to his fashion sense.

As mentioned in the comment, there is an alien that wanders around in a trench coat, and I think communicates telepathically.

But, when introduced to Madame President, Raoul behaved quite differently. Awed by her beauty, he murmured a few words of polite and correct greeting, then actually deigned to press his golden-coated lips against the skin of her extended hand.

Madame President found this all highly amusing. She made a polite response to Raoul, then, switching off her translator with a feigned, casual gesture, she said something to her husband having to do with "fairies and fags." All of which the Little One passed on to Raoul.

Raoul, smiling coyly, advanced to pay his respects to the President. The Adonian ambassador was apparently not all that impressed with Mr. President, who was shriveled and shrunken, a withered husk covered by wrinkled skin. Raoul, gazing at the man, speculated seriously on vampirism in modem times.

Madame President, meanwhile, was delightedly and laughingly exhibiting to her neighbors the gold lipstick impression left on her skin

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    I've taken the liberty of confirming the book title and adding in a relevant quote regarding the gold lipstick – Valorum Jul 27 '20 at 23:39
  • Thank you. Dare I ask where you found it? – Michael Jul 27 '20 at 23:40
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    I happen to have a legitimately purchased electronic copy of it and I certainly didn't download it from the internet. – Valorum Jul 28 '20 at 0:17
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    Good to know that everyone here is a good, law-abiding citizen. – Michael Jul 28 '20 at 9:38

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