I'm searching for a science fiction book about a man on the run. After a chapter or two, his pursuers catch him in a busy space station/planet ; you learn he's a genetically-modified spy who can shapeshift into any human. His handler is an (older?) woman. She leaves him in a room for 3/5 days, where he shapeshifts into someone else. The process is painful for him.

His handler gives him a data card, possiby prism-shaped, possibly green, to show him the face he'll change to and the man's file ; he needs a complex understanding of his target to shapeshift.

The cover shows a futuristic gray tower and pinkinsh (I think) skies behind.

This book is a prequel, I think, to another series. I'm not sure if the series' main character is the same.

The protagonist's name might be Alex ; for some reason, I always think of 'Bodhi' when I think of his name.

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    Some of this reminds me of Bora Gobachaul, the changer from Iain M Banks novel Consider Phlebas. The rest of the information given doesn't match though...Bora doesn't have a woman handler (although a woman is the antagonist), and I don't remember Bora being given a data card with a target for him to impersonate.
    – Alith
    Feb 3 at 8:19
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    I think this is too tenuous to post as an answer, but the novel Masque has some similarities to your description. The genetically modified shape shifters are called Mimes and the prologue does start with a Mime being hunted. The story follows a Mime called Tristan. Tristan shifts by inserting a data wafer into a slot in his belly, and the shift is painful but quick - it doesn't take several days. Tristan's handler is a man called Cyrill not a woman. Feb 3 at 9:25
  • It's a long time since I read All My Sins Remembered, by Joe Haldeman, but some of the details in the description made think of it.
    – user888379
    Feb 3 at 15:29
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    @Reader - Someone using a different account with the same username as yours has attempted to edit this question. If that person is you and you've lost access to the account you used to post this question, please merge your accounts by following the instructions provided here. In doing so, you'll regain the ability to edit this question without approval from other users, post comments beneath this question, and mark an answer as accepted, if one is posted. Feb 5 at 6:10
  • I agree with @JohnRennie about the similarities to Masque (retitled to DNA Wars at some point) - I'm actually reading it at the moment. But there're also a lot of deviations - It's corporate city-states ("Gloms") rather than planets. The handler isn't an older woman, but there is a resistance leader named Osakan who is an old lady. Your description of the cover fits pretty well though: goodreads.com/book/show/973532.Masque Feb 5 at 16:30


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