As a detective, I approached the clue ‘Surreal’ with a curious mind. My first instinct was to understand the meaning of the word ‘surreal’ itself. I knew that it referred to something that was fantastical or dreamlike in nature, evoking a sense of confusion or absurdity. With this understanding, my mind raced through possible answers to the clue. I thought of words like ‘fantastic’, ‘unreal’, and ‘strange’, but none seemed to fit the bill perfectly.

That’s when I started to think about the clues and tips provided by the structure of the crossword puzzle itself. The letter count quickly helped me eliminate some options and identify potential candidates based on the letters already filled in. After trying different combinations, I couldn’t ignore the fact that the word ‘dreamlike’ was the most fitting answer. Not only does it align with the definition of surreal, but it also matches the required length and fits seamlessly with the surrounding answers.

In the end, like a puzzle falling into place, the answer ‘DREAMLIKE’ solved the mystery of the crossword clue ‘Surreal’. Through a combination of analysis, intuition, and a deep understanding of language, I was able to unlock the meaning behind this cryptic clue and crack the code of the crossword puzzle.