The Spies by Luis Fernando Verissimo
A frustrated publisher receives a mysterious angst-ridden manuscript: 'a friend' must send it in installments; its contents would put the author in danger. As he pieces together the story, he learns that the author is the wife of one of the two Martelli brothers - gangsters who dominate a small town in the Brazilian interior. Surely her dark outpourings are a cry for help? One by one, he dispatches his motley collection of friends to Frondosa - a town totally obsessed with five-a-side football - to investigate and to bring her to safety.