In 2004, Stieg Larsson died of a heart attack just after finishing his Millennium Trilogy, a spellbinding mystery series about the enigmatic hacker Lisbeth Salander. In 2005, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo became a hit in his native Sweden, and by 2008, the books were best-sellers overseas. So why is Larsson one of our favorite entertainers of 2010? Because this was the year that his books evolved from a publishing phenomenon into a cultural one, when you couldn’t go 20 feet without seeing one of those brightly colored covers at a coffee shop or tucked into a friend’s bag. It was the year that Larsson’s story jumped to American theaters in a Swedish-language trilogy that broke art-house records and turned leading lady Noomi Rapace into a Hollywood player. (Next time you see her, she’ll be opposite Robert Downey Jr. in the Sherlock Holmes sequel.) Meanwhile, director David Fincher began filming Hollywood’s version, with Daniel Craig as reporter Mikael Blomkvist and newcomer Rooney Mara in the star-making title role. It’s set to hit theaters in December 2011, which means that while Larsson’s personal story has already reached its end, the first chapter of his legacy has only just begun.