CONCLAVE by Robert Harris
Review by Laurie Chisholm
From Wikipedia: A history of political interference in papal selection and consequently long vacancies between popes, culminating in the interregnum of 1268-1271, prompted Pope Gregory X to decree during the Second Council of Lyons in 1274 that the cardinal electors should be locked in seclusion cum clave (Latin for "with a key") and not permitted to leave until a new Bishop of Rome had been elected.
Conclaves are now held in the Sistine Chapel of the Apostolic Palace.
From the book cover: Behind the locked doors of the Sistine Chapel, one hundred and eighteen cardinals from all over the globe will cast their votes in the world’s most secretive election. They are holy men. But they have ambition. And they have rivals. Over the next seventy-two hours one of them will become the most powerful spiritual figure on earth.
What to make of it? A fast paced, can’t-put-it-down novel. I learned a lot about Vatican politics — which sounds rather gothic. This novel will no doubt make a better-than-Dan-Brown movie.