A historical look at conclaves: graph.
On the group dynamics.
The odds have changed daily over the last 2 weeks. As of this writing Cardinal Ratzinger leads the pack at 3:1.
Bear in mind:
In the last conclave in 1978, Vatican-watchers had concocted lists of potential popes 20 to 30 names long, hoping that would cover all the possibilities. But Karol Wojtyla, the cardinal from Poland who became Pope John Paul II after three days, made practically none of them.
The New York Times
There is some overlap, but all offer different shortlists for the papal successor. NYT and CBC include Canadian Marc Oullet (Friday odds were 80:1; today 50:1). CNN ignores Martini. CBS omits the Jesuit, Bergoglio.
According to the New York Times, Ratzinger "appears to command the largest and most cohesive block, and at a minimum, it seems unlikely that the next pope will be chosen without his blessing."
There was considerable leakage of information during the conclave that elected John Paul II in 1978, and the Vatican is taking measures to ensure it doesn't happen again.
Nobody really knows what happens inside the conclave, but there are educated guesses and imagination fills in the blanks.
The New York Times reviews conclaves, papal politics, and the personal struggles of cardinals as presented in books and movies.
The Cardinal, film, Otto Preminger, 1963.
The Shoes of the Fisherman, film, 1968, based on the novel by Morris L West.
White Smoke, Rev. Andrew M Greeley, 1996.
Conclave, Greg Tobin, 2001.
Angels & Demons, Dan Brown, 2003. (excerpt)
The autobiography of Pius II, 15th century.
The Making of the Popes, Rev. Andrew M Greeley, 1979.
Conclave: The Politics, Personalities and Process of the Next Papal Election, John L. Allen Jr, 2002.
Selecting the Pope: Uncovering the Mysteries of Papal Elections, Greg Tobin, 2003.
Heirs of the Fisherman: Behind the Scenes of Papal Death and Succession, John-Peter Pham, 2004.
Making of the Pope 2005, Rev. Andrew M Greeley, currently being researched.
I've read the following religious-themed books. Though not specifically focused on the election of a pope, they offer insight into the religious mind as well the workings of the Church.
The Name of the Rose, Umberto Eco, 1983; film, 1986.
On the Third Day, Piers Paul Read, 1991.
The Seville Communion, Arturo Perez-Reverte, 1995.
The Third Miracle, Richard Vetere, 1997; film, 1999.
In God's Name: An Investigation into the Murder of Pope John Paul I, David A Yallop, 1984.
If nothing else, they're good mysteries.
Drenched with ritual and cloaked in secrecy, the spectacle of the conclave makes for great theatre.
A lingering curiosity
The text of John Paul II's last will and testament is available in English. Though the media voiced some speculation at the time of the pope's death, I'm left puzzling as to the how and why of the resolution of this wish:
5.III.82 (March 5, 1982)
In connection with the last sentence in my testament of 6.III.1979 (March 6, 1979) ("concerning the site / that is, the site of the funeral / let the College of Cardinals and Compatriots decide") — I will make it clear that I have in mind: the metropolitan of Krakow or the General Council of the Episcopate of Poland. In the meantime I ask the College of Cardinals to satisfy, as far as possible, any demands of the above-mentioned.