There’s a scene in Lord of the Rings, the Fellowship of the Ring, where Gimli guides a pair of Hobbits through an enchanted forest. He tells them he’s one dwarf that won’t be ensnared so easily because “I have the eyes of a hawk and the ears of fox.”

It’s at this point that he almost walks into an arrow pointed at his face by an elf.

In true crime we deal constantly with tricks, deceptions, deceits and dead-ends. Because it’s literally about life and death for the criminals involved, the stakes in placing “an enchantment” over those watching from the sidelines couldn’t be higher. The question is, how good is our discernment, our perception, at seeing the wood for the trees in criminal cases, and vice versa?

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To be an “elf” in the true crime sense, we need to be able to see both perspectives, the wood and the trees, and how they form one another. It can be difficult to see the wood when surrounded by trees, but equally, it can be difficult to see inside the wood when you’re far on the outside, and especially when a suspect is doing his damnedest to distort the scene in smoke and mirrors.

But a good true crime elf can see through the smoke, and can navigate both the minuatiae and the big picture elements of a crime. Which are you? The elf or the dwarf?