A long time ago, I remember reading something in a murder mystery that made me want to slam the book shut and throw it against the nearest wall. No, it wasn't a factual error, such as having a character load a clip into a revolver or locating Mount Rushmore in North Dakota. Nor was it a case of the previously strong-minded and capable heroine walking blindly into deadly peril when any person with an ounce of common sense would simply have called the cops.
This was even worse.
The author described the contents of a female character's purse. It contained a comb, a lipstick, a compact, a few dollars, and a handkerchief (clean, of course, and neatly folded). That was it.
A male author might possibly have been forgiven this editorial faux pas—though it wouldn't be unreasonable to expect him to have done a little basic research. This author, however, was a woman. She knew better.
The pristine purse she described had no odd pennies in the bottom. No wadded-up tissues, used and otherwise. No random grocery lists. No wrappers from restaurant after-dinner mints. No cough drops so old they had melted to their paper wrappers. No car keys. No bobby pins, nail file, or lip balm. No pens, working or not. No lonely mates to long-lost earrings. No napkins with mysterious phone numbers or to-do reminders written on them. Not even, somewhere in the bottom, a wallet or a checkbook. (No cell phone, either, but that was okay because they hadn't been invented yet.)
As I recall, the character was looking through her purse in search of something that might help her escape from a dangerous situation. She didn't find anything useful.
Served her right, too. A real woman would have been equipped to pick a lock with a bobby pin or fend off the bad guy with a nail file. Or at least try to choke him with a couple of stuck-together cough drops.